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Title: The Stones of Venice, Volume II (of 3)

Author: John Ruskin

Release Date: December 31, 2009  [eBook #30755]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

(OF 3)***

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Transcriber's note:

      A few typographical errors have been corrected. They are
      listed at the end of the text.

      Characters following a caret were printed as superscript
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Library Edition

The Complete Works of John Ruskin



National Library Association
New York             Chicago

The Complete Works of John Ruskin

Volume VIII





The Sea Stories


It was originally intended that this Work should consist of two volumes
only; the subject has extended to three. The second volume, however,
will conclude the account of the ancient architecture of Venice. The
third will embrace the Early, the Roman, and the Grotesque Renaissance;
and an Index, which, as it gives, in alphabetical order, a brief account
of all the buildings in Venice, or references to the places where they
are mentioned in the text, will be found a convenient guide for the
traveller. In order to make it more serviceable, I have introduced some
notices of the pictures which I think most interesting in the various
churches, and in the Scuola di San Rocco.



                         CHAPTER I.
    The Throne,                                          1

                        CHAPTER II.
    Torcello,                                           11

                       CHAPTER III.
    Murano,                                             27

                        CHAPTER IV.
    St. Mark's,                                         57

                        CHAPTER V.
    Byzantine Palaces,                                 118


                        CHAPTER VI.
    The Nature of Gothic,                              151

                       CHAPTER VII.
    Gothic Palaces,                                    231

                       CHAPTER VIII.
    The Ducal Palace,                                  281


     1. The Gondolier's Cry,                           375
     2. Our Lady of Salvation,                         378
     3. Tides of Venice and Measures at Torcello,      378
     4. Date of the Duomo of Torcello,                 380
     5. Modern Pulpits,                                380
     6. Apse of Murano,                                382
     7. Early Venetian Dress,                          383
     8. Inscriptions at Murano,                        384
     9. Shafts of St. Mark's,                          384
    10. Proper Sense of the Word Idolatry,             388
    11. Situations of Byzantine Palaces,               391
    12. Modern Paintings on Glass,                     394


                                                           Facing Page
 Plate 1. Plans of Torcello and Murano,                             14

   "   2. The Acanthus of Torcello,                                 15

   "   3. Inlaid Bands of Murano,                                   40

   "   4. Sculptures of Murano,                                     42

   "   5. Archivolt in the Duomo of Murano,                         45

   "   6. The Vine, Free and in Service,                            96

   "   7. Byzantine Capitals--Convex Group,                        131

   "   8. Byzantine Capitals--Concave Group,                       132

   "   9. Lily Capital of St. Mark's,                              136

   "  10. The Four Venetian Flower Order,                          137

   "  11. Byzantine Sculptures,                                    138

   "  12. Linear and Surface Gothic,                               224

   "  13. Balconies,                                               247

   "  14. The Orders of Venetian Arches,                           248

   "  15. Windows of the Second Order,                             254

   "  16. Windows of the Fourth Order,                             257

   "  17. Windows of the Early Gothic Palaces,                     259

   "  18. Windows of the Fifth Order,                              266

   "  19. Leafage of the Vine Angle,                               308

   "  20. Leafage of the Venetian Capitals,                        368






§ I. In the olden days of travelling, now to return no more, in which
distance could not be vanquished without toil, but in which that toil
was rewarded, partly by the power of deliberate survey of the countries
through which the journey lay, and partly by the happiness of the
evening hours, when, from the top of the last hill he had surmounted,
the traveller beheld the quiet village where he was to rest, scattered
among the meadows beside its valley stream; or, from the long-hoped-for
turn in the dusty perspective of the causeway, saw, for the first time,
the towers of some famed city, faint in the rays of sunset--hours of
peaceful and thoughtful pleasure, for which the rush of the arrival in
the railway station is perhaps not always, or to all men, an
equivalent,--in those days, I say, when there was something more to be
anticipated and remembered in the first aspect of each successive
halting-place, than a new arrangement of glass roofing and iron girder,
there were few moments of which the recollection was more fondly
cherished by the traveller than that which, as I endeavored to describe
in the close of the last chapter, brought him within sight of Venice, as
his gondola shot into the open lagoon from the canal of Mestre. Not but
that the aspect of the city itself was generally the source of some
slight disappointment, for, seen in this direction, its buildings are
far less characteristic than those of the other great towns of Italy;
but this inferiority was partly disguised by distance, and more than
atoned for by the strange rising of its walls and towers out of the
midst, as it seemed, of the deep sea, for it was impossible that the
mind or the eye could at once comprehend the shallowness of the vast
sheet of water which stretched away in leagues of rippling lustre to the
north and south, or trace the narrow line of islets bounding it to the
east. The salt breeze, the white moaning sea-birds, the masses of black
weed separating and disappearing gradually, in knots of heaving shoal,
under the advance of the steady tide, all proclaimed it to be indeed the
ocean on whose bosom the great city rested so calmly; not such blue,
soft, lake-like ocean as bathes the Neapolitan promontories, or sleeps
beneath the marble rocks of Genoa, but a sea with the bleak power of our
own northern waves, yet subdued into a strange spacious rest, and
changed from its angry pallor into a field of burnished gold, as the sun
declined behind the belfry tower of the lonely island church, fitly
named "St. George of the Seaweed." As the boat drew nearer to the city,
the coast which the traveller had just left sank behind him into one
long, low, sad-colored line, tufted irregularly with brushwood and
willows: but, at what seemed its northern extremity, the hills of Arqua
rose in a dark cluster of purple pyramids, balanced on the bright mirage
of the lagoon; two or three smooth surges of inferior hill extended
themselves about their roots, and beyond these, beginning with the
craggy peaks above Vicenza, the chain of the Alps girded the whole
horizon to the north--a wall of jagged blue, here and there showing
through its clefts a wilderness of misty precipices, fading far back
into the recesses of Cadore, and itself rising and breaking away
eastward, where the sun struck opposite upon its snow, into mighty
fragments of peaked light, standing up behind the barred clouds of
evening, one after another, countless, the crown of the Adrian Sea,
until the eye turned back from pursuing them, to rest upon the nearer
burning of the campaniles of Murano, and on the great city, where it
magnified itself along the waves, as the quick silent pacing of the
gondola drew nearer and nearer. And at last, when its walls were
reached, and the outmost of its untrodden streets was entered, not
through towered gate or guarded rampart, but as a deep inlet between two
rocks of coral in the Indian sea; when first upon the traveller's sight
opened the long ranges of columned palaces,--each with its black boat
moored at the portal,--each with its image cast down, beneath its feet,
upon that green pavement which every breeze broke into new fantasies of
rich tessellation; when first, at the extremity of the bright vista, the
shadowy Rialto threw its colossal curve slowly forth from behind the
palace of the Camerlenghi; that strange curve, so delicate, so
adamantine, strong as a mountain cavern, graceful as a bow just bent;
when first, before its moonlike circumference was all risen, the
gondolier's cry, "Ah! Stalí,"[1] struck sharp upon the ear, and the prow
turned aside under the mighty cornices that half met over the narrow
canal, where the plash of the water followed close and loud, ringing
along the marble by the boat's side; and when at last that boat darted
forth upon the breadth of silver sea, across which the front of the
Ducal palace, flushed with its sanguine veins, looks to the snowy dome
of Our Lady of Salvation,[2] it was no marvel that the mind should be so
deeply entranced by the visionary charm of a scene so beautiful and so
strange, as to forget the darker truths of its history and its being.
Well might it seem that such a city had owed her existence rather to the
rod of the enchanter, than the fear of the fugitive; that the waters
which encircled her had been chosen for the mirror of her state, rather
than the shelter of her nakedness; and that all which in nature was wild
or merciless,--Time and Decay, as well as the waves and tempests,--had
been won to adorn her instead of to destroy, and might still spare, for
ages to come, that beauty which seemed to have fixed for its throne the
sands of the hour-glass as well as of the sea.

§ II. And although the last few eventful years, fraught with change to
the face of the whole earth, have been more fatal in their influence on
Venice than the five hundred that preceded them; though the noble
landscape of approach to her can now be seen no more, or seen only by a
glance, as the engine slackens its rushing on the iron line; and though
many of her palaces are for ever defaced, and many in desecrated ruins,
there is still so much of magic in her aspect, that the hurried
traveller, who must leave her before the wonder of that first aspect has
been worn away, may still be led to forget the humility of her origin,
and to shut his eyes to the depth of her desolation. They, at least, are
little to be envied, in whose hearts the great charities of the
imagination lie dead, and for whom the fancy has no power to repress the
importunity of painful impressions, or to raise what is ignoble, and
disguise what is discordant, in a scene so rich in its remembrances, so
surpassing in its beauty. But for this work of the imagination there
must be no permission during the task which is before us. The impotent
feelings of romance, so singularly characteristic of this century, may
indeed gild, but never save the remains of those mightier ages to which
they are attached like climbing flowers; and they must be torn away from
the magnificent fragments, if we would see them as they stood in their
own strength. Those feelings, always as fruitless as they are fond, are
in Venice not only incapable of protecting, but even of discerning, the
objects to which they ought to have been attached. The Venice of modern
fiction and drama is a thing of yesterday, a mere efflorescence of
decay, a stage dream which the first ray of daylight must dissipate into
dust. No prisoner, whose name is worth remembering, or whose sorrow
deserved sympathy, ever crossed that "Bridge of Sighs," which is the
centre of the Byronic ideal of Venice; no great merchant of Venice ever
saw that Rialto under which the traveller now passes with breathless
interest: the statue which Byron makes Faliero address as of one of his
great ancestors was erected to a soldier of fortune a hundred and fifty
years after Faliero's death; and the most conspicuous parts of the city
have been so entirely altered in the course of the last three centuries,
that if Henry Dandolo or Francis Foscari could be summoned from their
tombs, and stood each on the deck of his galley at the entrance of the
Grand Canal, that renowned entrance, the painter's favorite subject, the
novelist's favorite scene, where the water first narrows by the steps of
the Church of La Salute,--the mighty Doges would not know in what spot
of the world they stood, would literally not recognize one stone of the
great city, for whose sake, and by whose ingratitude, their grey hairs
had been brought down with bitterness to the grave. The remains of
_their_ Venice lie hidden behind the cumbrous masses which were the
delight of the nation in its dotage; hidden in many a grass-grown court,
and silent pathway, and lightless canal, where the slow waves have
sapped their foundations for five hundred years, and must soon prevail
over them for ever. It must be our task to glean and gather them forth,
and restore out of them some faint image of the lost city, more gorgeous
a thousand-fold than that which now exists, yet not created in the
day-dream of the prince, nor by the ostentation of the noble, but built
by iron hands and patient hearts, contending against the adversity of
nature and the fury of man, so that its wonderfulness cannot be grasped
by the indolence of imagination, but only after frank inquiry into the
true nature of that wild and solitary scene, whose restless tides and
trembling sands did indeed shelter the birth of the city, but long
denied her dominion.

§ III. When the eye falls casually on a map of Europe, there is no
feature by which it is more likely to be arrested than the strange
sweeping loop formed by the junction of the Alps and Apennines, and
enclosing the great basin of Lombardy. This return of the mountain chain
upon itself causes a vast difference in the character of the
distribution of its débris on its opposite sides. The rock fragments and
sediment which the torrents on the north side of the Alps bear into the
plains are distributed over a vast extent of country, and, though here
and there lodged in beds of enormous thickness, soon permit the firm
substrata to appear from underneath them; but all the torrents which
descend from the southern side of the High Alps, and from the northern
slope of the Apennines, meet concentrically in the recess or mountain
bay which the two ridges enclose; every fragment which thunder breaks
out of their battlements, and every grain of dust which the summer rain
washes from their pastures, is at last laid at rest in the blue sweep of
the Lombardic plain; and that plain must have risen within its rocky
barriers as a cup fills with wine, but for two contrary influences which
continually depress, or disperse from its surface, the accumulation of
the ruins of ages.

§ IV. I will not tax the reader's faith in modern science by insisting
on the singular depression of the surface of Lombardy, which appears for
many centuries to have taken place steadily and continually; the main
fact with which we have to do is the gradual transport, by the Po and
its great collateral rivers, of vast masses of the finer sediment to the
sea. The character of the Lombardic plains is most strikingly expressed
by the ancient walls of its cities, composed for the most part of large
rounded Alpine pebbles alternating with narrow courses of brick; and was
curiously illustrated in 1848, by the ramparts of these same pebbles
thrown up four or five feet high round every field, to check the
Austrian cavalry in the battle under the walls of Verona. The finer dust
among which these pebbles are dispersed is taken up by the rivers, fed
into continual strength by the Alpine snow, so that, however pure their
waters may be when they issue from the lakes at the foot of the great
chain, they become of the color and opacity of clay before they reach
the Adriatic; the sediment which they bear is at once thrown down as
they enter the sea, forming a vast belt of low land along the eastern
coast of Italy. The powerful stream of the Po of course builds forward
the fastest; on each side of it, north and south, there is a tract of
marsh, fed by more feeble streams, and less liable to rapid change than
the delta of the central river. In one of these tracts is built RAVENNA,
and in the other VENICE.

§ V. What circumstances directed the peculiar arrangement of this great
belt of sediment in the earliest times, it is not here the place to
inquire. It is enough for us to know that from the mouths of the Adige
to those of the Piave there stretches, at a variable distance of from
three to five miles from the actual shore, a bank of sand, divided into
long islands by narrow channels of sea. The space between this bank and
the true shore consists of the sedimentary deposits from these and other
rivers, a great plain of calcareous mud, covered, in the neighborhood of
Venice, by the sea at high water, to the depth in most places of a foot
or a foot and a half, and nearly everywhere exposed at low tide, but
divided by an intricate network of narrow and winding channels, from
which the sea never retires. In some places, according to the run of the
currents, the land has risen into marshy islets, consolidated, some by
art, and some by time, into ground firm enough to be built upon, or
fruitful enough to be cultivated: in others, on the contrary, it has not
reached the sea-level; so that, at the average low water, shallow
lakelets glitter among its irregularly exposed fields of seaweed. In the
midst of the largest of these, increased in importance by the confluence
of several large river channels towards one of the openings in the sea
bank, the city of Venice itself is built, on a crowded cluster of
islands; the various plots of higher ground which appear to the north
and south of this central cluster, have at different periods been also
thickly inhabited, and now bear, according to their size, the remains of
cities, villages, or isolated convents and churches, scattered among
spaces of open ground, partly waste and encumbered by ruins, partly
under cultivation for the supply of the metropolis.

§ VI. The average rise and fall of the tide is about three feet (varying
considerably with the seasons[3]); but this fall, on so flat a shore, is
enough to cause continual movement in the waters, and in the main canals
to produce a reflux which frequently runs like a mill stream. At high
water no land is visible for many miles to the north or south of Venice,
except in the form of small islands crowned with towers or gleaming with
villages: there is a channel, some three miles wide, between the city
and the mainland, and some mile and a half wide between it and the sandy
breakwater called the Lido, which divides the lagoon from the Adriatic,
but which is so low as hardly to disturb the impression of the city's
having been built in the midst of the ocean, although the secret of its
true position is partly, yet not painfully, betrayed by the clusters of
piles set to mark the deep-water channels, which undulate far away in
spotty chains like the studded backs of huge sea-snakes, and by the
quick glittering of the crisped and crowded waves that flicker and dance
before the strong winds upon the unlifted level of the shallow sea. But
the scene is widely different at low tide. A fall of eighteen or twenty
inches is enough to show ground over the greater part of the lagoon; and
at the complete ebb the city is seen standing in the midst of a dark
plain of seaweed, of gloomy green, except only where the larger branches
of the Brenta and its associated streams converge towards the port of
the Lido. Through this salt and sombre plain the gondola and the
fishing-boat advance by tortuous channels, seldom more than four or five
feet deep, and often so choked with slime that the heavier keels furrow
the bottom till their crossing tracks are seen through the clear sea
water like the ruts upon a wintry road, and the oar leaves blue gashes
upon the ground at every stroke, or is entangled among the thick weed
that fringes the banks with the weight of its sullen waves, leaning to
and fro upon the uncertain sway of the exhausted tide. The scene is
often profoundly oppressive, even at this day, when every plot of higher
ground bears some fragment of fair building: but, in order to know what
it was once, let the traveller follow in his boat at evening the
windings of some unfrequented channel far into the midst of the
melancholy plain; let him remove, in his imagination, the brightness of
the great city that still extends itself in the distance, and the walls
and towers from the islands that are near; and so wait, until the bright
investiture and sweet warmth of the sunset are withdrawn from the
waters, and the black desert of their shore lies in its nakedness
beneath the night, pathless, comfortless, infirm, lost in dark languor
and fearful silence, except where the salt runlets plash into the
tideless pools, or the sea-birds flit from their margins with a
questioning cry; and he will be enabled to enter in some sort into the
horror of heart with which this solitude was anciently chosen by man for
his habitation. They little thought, who first drove the stakes into the
sand, and strewed the ocean reeds for their rest, that their children
were to be the princes of that ocean, and their palaces its pride; and
yet, in the great natural laws that rule that sorrowful wilderness, let
it be remembered what strange preparation had been made for the things
which no human imagination could have foretold, and how the whole
existence and fortune of the Venetian nation were anticipated or
compelled, by the setting of those bars and doors to the rivers and the
sea. Had deeper currents divided their islands, hostile navies would
again and again have reduced the rising city into servitude; had
stronger surges beaten their shores, all the richness and refinement of
the Venetian architecture must have been exchanged for the walls and
bulwarks of an ordinary sea-port. Had there been no tide, as in other
parts of the Mediterranean, the narrow canals of the city would have
become noisome, and the marsh in which it was built pestiferous. Had the
tide been only a foot or eighteen inches higher in its rise, the
water-access to the doors of the palaces would have been impossible:
even as it is, there is sometimes a little difficulty, at the ebb, in
landing without setting foot upon the lower and slippery steps: and the
highest tides sometimes enter the courtyards, and overflow the entrance
halls. Eighteen inches more of difference between the level of the flood
and ebb would have rendered the doorsteps of every palace, at low water,
a treacherous mass of weeds and limpets, and the entire system of
water-carriage for the higher classes, in their easy and daily
intercourse, must have been done away with. The streets of the city
would have been widened, its network of canals filled up, and all the
peculiar character of the place and the people destroyed.

§ VII. The reader may perhaps have felt some pain in the contrast
between this faithful view of the site of the Venetian Throne, and the
romantic conception of it which we ordinarily form; but this pain, if he
have felt it, ought to be more than counterbalanced by the value of the
instance thus afforded to us at once of the inscrutableness and the
wisdom of the ways of God. If, two thousand years ago, we had been
permitted to watch the slow settling of the slime of those turbid rivers
into the polluted sea, and the gaining upon its deep and fresh waters of
the lifeless, impassable, unvoyageable plain, how little could we have
understood the purpose with which those islands were shaped out of the
void, and the torpid waters enclosed with their desolate walls of sand!
How little could we have known, any more than of what now seems to us
most distressful, dark, and objectless, the glorious aim which was then
in the mind of Him in whose hand are all the corners of the earth! how
little imagined that in the laws which were stretching forth the gloomy
margins of those fruitless banks, and feeding the bitter grass among
their shallows, there was indeed a preparation, and _the only
preparation possible_, for the founding of a city which was to be set
like a golden clasp on the girdle of the earth, to write her history on
the white scrolls of the sea-surges, and to word it in their thunder,
and to gather and give forth, in worldwide pulsation, the glory of the
West and of the East, from the burning heart of her Fortitude and


  [1] Appendix 1, "The Gondolier's Cry."

  [2] Appendix 2, "Our Lady of Salvation."

  [3] Appendix 3, "Tides of Venice."



§ I. Seven miles to the north of Venice, the banks of sand, which near
the city rise little above low-water mark, attain by degrees a higher
level, and knit themselves at last into fields of salt morass, raised
here and there into shapeless mounds, and intercepted by narrow creeks
of sea. One of the feeblest of these inlets, after winding for some time
among buried fragments of masonry, and knots of sunburnt weeds whitened
with webs of fucus, stays itself in an utterly stagnant pool beside a
plot of greener grass covered with ground ivy and violets. On this mound
is built a rude brick campanile, of the commonest Lombardic type, which
if we ascend towards evening (and there are none to hinder us, the door
of its ruinous staircase swinging idly on its hinges), we may command
from it one of the most notable scenes in this wide world of ours. Far
as the eye can reach, a waste of wild sea moor, of a lurid ashen grey;
not like our northern moors with their jet-black pools and purple heath,
but lifeless, the color of sackcloth, with the corrupted sea-water
soaking through the roots of its acrid weeds, and gleaming hither and
thither through its snaky channels. No gathering of fantastic mists, nor
coursing of clouds across it; but melancholy clearness of space in the
warm sunset, oppressive, reaching to the horizon of its level gloom. To
the very horizon, on the north-east; but, to the north and west, there
is a blue line of higher land along the border of it, and above this,
but farther back, a misty band of mountains, touched with snow. To the
east, the paleness and roar of the Adriatic, louder at momentary
intervals as the surf breaks on the bars of sand; to the south, the
widening branches of the calm lagoon, alternately purple and pale
green, as they reflect the evening clouds or twilight sky; and almost
beneath our feet, on the same field which sustains the tower we gaze
from, a group of four buildings, two of them little larger than cottages
(though built of stone, and one adorned by a quaint belfry), the third
an octagonal chapel, of which we can see but little more than the flat
red roof with its rayed tiling, the fourth, a considerable church with
nave and aisles, but of which, in like manner, we can see little but the
long central ridge and lateral slopes of roof, which the sunlight
separates in one glowing mass from the green field beneath and grey moor
beyond. There are no living creatures near the buildings, nor any
vestige of village or city round about them. They lie like a little
company of ships becalmed on a far-away sea.

§ II. Then look farther to the south. Beyond the widening branches of
the lagoon, and rising out of the bright lake into which they gather,
there are a multitude of towers, dark, and scattered among square-set
shapes of clustered palaces, a long and irregular line fretting the
southern sky.

Mother and daughter, you behold them both in their widowhood,--TORCELLO

Thirteen hundred years ago, the grey moorland looked as it does this
day, and the purple mountains stood as radiantly in the deep distances
of evening; but on the line of the horizon, there were strange fires
mixed with the light of sunset, and the lament of many human voices
mixed with the fretting of the waves on their ridges of sand. The flames
rose from the ruins of Altinum; the lament from the multitude of its
people, seeking, like Israel of old, a refuge from the sword in the
paths of the sea.

The cattle are feeding and resting upon the site of the city that they
left; the mower's scythe swept this day at dawn over the chief street of
the city that they built, and the swathes of soft grass are now sending
up their scent into the night air, the only incense that fills the
temple of their ancient worship. Let us go down into that little space
of meadow land.

§ III. The inlet which runs nearest to the base of the campanile is not
that by which Torcello is commonly approached. Another, somewhat
broader, and overhung by alder copse, winds out of the main channel of
the lagoon up to the very edge of the little meadow which was once the
Piazza of the city, and there, stayed by a few grey stones which present
some semblance of a quay, forms its boundary at one extremity. Hardly
larger than an ordinary English farmyard, and roughly enclosed on each
side by broken palings and hedges of honeysuckle and briar, the narrow
field retires from the water's edge, traversed by a scarcely traceable
footpath, for some forty or fifty paces, and then expanding into the
form of a small square, with buildings on three sides of it, the fourth
being that which opens to the water. Two of these, that on our left and
that in front of us as we approach from the canal, are so small that
they might well be taken for the out-houses of the farm, though the
first is a conventual building, and the other aspires to the title of
the "Palazzo publico," both dating as far back as the beginning of the
fourteenth century; the third, the octagonal church of Santa Fosca, is
far more ancient than either, yet hardly on a larger scale. Though the
pillars of the portico which surrounds it are of pure Greek marble, and
their capitals are enriched with delicate sculpture, they, and the
arches they sustain, together only raise the roof to the height of a
cattle-shed; and the first strong impression which the spectator
receives from the whole scene is, that whatever sin it may have been
which has on this spot been visited with so utter a desolation, it could
not at least have been ambition. Nor will this impression be diminished
as we approach, or enter, the larger church to which the whole group of
building is subordinate. It has evidently been built by men in flight
and distress,[4] who sought in the hurried erection of their island
church such a shelter for their earnest and sorrowful worship as, on the
one hand, could not attract the eyes of their enemies by its splendor,
and yet, on the other, might not awaken too bitter feelings by its
contrast with the churches which they had seen destroyed. There is
visible everywhere a simple and tender effort to recover some of the
form of the temples which they had loved, and to do honor to God by that
which they were erecting, while distress and humiliation prevented the
desire, and prudence precluded the admission, either of luxury of
ornament or magnificence of plan. The exterior is absolutely devoid of
decoration, with the exception only of the western entrance and the
lateral door, of which the former has carved sideposts and architrave,
and the latter, crosses of rich sculpture; while the massy stone
shutters of the windows, turning on huge rings of stone, which answer
the double purpose of stanchions and brackets, cause the whole building
rather to resemble a refuge from Alpine storm than the cathedral of a
populous city; and, internally, the two solemn mosaics of the eastern
and western extremities,--one representing the Last Judgment, the other
the Madonna, her tears falling as her hands are raised to bless,--and
the noble range of pillars which enclose the space between, terminated
by the high throne for the pastor and the semicircular raised seats for
the superior clergy, are expressive at once of the deep sorrow and the
sacred courage of men who had no home left them upon earth, but who
looked for one to come, of men "persecuted but not forsaken, cast down
but not destroyed."

§ IV. I am not aware of any other early church in Italy which has this
peculiar expression in so marked a degree; and it is so consistent with
all that Christian architecture ought to express in every age (for the
actual condition of the exiles who built the cathedral of Torcello is
exactly typical of the spiritual condition which every Christian ought
to recognize in himself, a state of homelessness on earth, except so far
as he can make the Most High his habitation), that I would rather fix
the mind of the reader on this general character than on the separate
details, however interesting, of the architecture itself. I shall
therefore examine these only so far as is necessary to give a clear idea
of the means by which the peculiar expression of the building is

[Illustration: Plate I.

§ V. On the opposite page, the uppermost figure, 1, is a rude plan
of the church. I do not answer for the thickness and external
disposition of the walls, which are not to our present purpose, and
which I have not carefully examined; but the interior arrangement is
given with sufficient accuracy. The church is built on the usual plan of
the Basilica[5] that is to say, its body divided into a nave and aisles
by two rows of massive shafts, the roof of the nave being raised high
above the aisles by walls sustained on two ranks of pillars, and pierced
with small arched windows. At Torcello the aisles are also lighted in
the same manner, and the nave is nearly twice their breadth.[6]

[Illustration: Plate II.

The capitals of all the great shafts are of white marble, and are among
the best I have ever seen, as examples of perfectly calculated effect
from every touch of the chisel. Mr. Hope calls them "indifferently
imitated from the Corinthian:"[7] but the expression is as inaccurate as
it is unjust; every one of them is different in design, and their
variations are as graceful as they are fanciful. I could not, except by
an elaborate drawing, give any idea of the sharp, dark, deep
penetrations of the chisel into their snowy marble, but a single example
is given in the opposite plate, fig. 1, of the nature of the changes
effected in them from the Corinthian type. In this capital, although a
kind of acanthus (only with rounded lobes) is indeed used for the upper
range of leaves, the lower range is not acanthus at all, but a kind of
vine, or at least that species of plant which stands for vine in all
early Lombardic and Byzantine work (vide Vol. I. Appendix 8); the leaves
are trefoiled, and the stalks cut clear so that they might be grasped
with the hand, and cast sharp dark shadows, perpetually changing, across
the bell of the capital behind them. I have drawn one of these vine
plants larger in fig. 2, that the reader may see how little imitation
of the Corinthian there is in them, and how boldly the stems of the
leaves are detached from the ground. But there is another circumstance
in this ornament still more noticeable. The band which encircles the
shaft beneath the spring of the leaves is copied from the common
classical wreathed or braided fillet, of which the reader may see
examples on almost every building of any pretensions in modern London.
But the mediæval builders could not be content with the dead and
meaningless scroll: the Gothic energy and love of life, mingled with the
early Christian religious symbolism, were struggling daily into more
vigorous expression, and they turned the wreathed band into a serpent of
three times the length necessary to undulate round the shaft, which,
knotting itself into a triple chain, shows at one side of the shaft its
tail and head, as if perpetually gliding round it beneath the stalks of
the vines. The vine, as is well known, was one of the early symbols of
Christ, and the serpent is here typical either of the eternity of his
dominion, or of the Satanic power subdued.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

§ VI. Nor even when the builder confines himself to the acanthus leaf
(or to that representation of it, hereafter to be more particularly
examined, constant in Romanesque work) can his imagination allow him to
rest content with its accustomed position. In a common Corinthian
capital the leaves nod forward only, thrown out on every side from the
bell which they surround: but at the base of one of the capitals on the
opposite side of the nave from this of the vines,[8] two leaves are
introduced set with their sides outwards, forming spirals by curling
back, half-closed, in the position shown in fig. 4 in Plate II., there
represented as in a real acanthus leaf; for it will assist our future
inquiries into the ornamentation of capitals that the reader should be
acquainted with the form of the acanthus leaf itself. I have drawn it,
therefore, in the two positions, figs. 3 and 4 in Plate II.; while fig.
5 is the translation of the latter form into marble by the sculptor of
Torcello. It is not very like the acanthus, but much liker than any
Greek work; though still entirely conventional in its cinquefoiled
lobes. But these are disposed with the most graceful freedom of line,
separated at the roots by deep drill holes, which tell upon the eye far
away like beads of jet; and changed, before they become too crowded to
be effective, into a vigorous and simple zigzagged edge, which saves the
designer some embarrassment in the perspective of the terminating
spiral. But his feeling of nature was greater than his knowledge of
perspective; and it is delightful to see how he has rooted the whole
leaf in the strong rounded under-stem, the indication of its closing
with its face inwards, and has thus given organization and elasticity to
the lovely group of spiral lines; a group of which, even in the lifeless
sea-shell, we are never weary, but which becomes yet more delightful
when the ideas of elasticity and growth are joined to the sweet
succession of its involution.

§ VII. It is not, however, to be expected that either the mute language
of early Christianity (however important a part of the expression of the
building at the time of its erection), or the delicate fancies of the
Gothic leafage springing into new life, should be read, or perceived, by
the passing traveller who has never been taught to expect anything in
architecture except five orders: yet he can hardly fail to be struck by
the simplicity and dignity of the great shafts themselves; by the frank
diffusion of light, which prevents their severity from becoming
oppressive; by the delicate forms and lovely carving of the pulpit and
chancel screen; and, above all, by the peculiar aspect of the eastern
extremity of the church, which, instead of being withdrawn, as in later
cathedrals, into a chapel dedicated to the Virgin, or contributing by
the brilliancy of its windows to the splendor of the altar, and
theatrical effect of the ceremonies performed there, is a simple and
stern semicircular recess, filled beneath by three ranks of seats,
raised one above the other, for the bishop and presbyters, that they
might watch as well as guide the devotions of the people, and discharge
literally in the daily service the functions of bishops or _overseers_
of the flock of God.

§ VIII. Let us consider a little each of these characters in succession;
and first (for of the shafts enough has been said already), what is very
peculiar to this church, its luminousness. This perhaps strikes the
traveller more from its contrast with the excessive gloom of the Church
of St. Mark's; but it is remarkable when we compare the Cathedral of
Torcello with any of the contemporary basilicas in South Italy or
Lombardic churches in the North. St. Ambrogio at Milan, St. Michele at
Pavia, St. Zeno at Verona, St. Frediano at Lucca, St. Miniato at
Florence, are all like sepulchral caverns compared with Torcello, where
the slightest details of the sculptures and mosaics are visible, even
when twilight is deepening. And there is something especially touching
in our finding the sunshine thus freely admitted into a church built by
men in sorrow. They did not need the darkness; they could not perhaps
bear it. There was fear and depression upon them enough, without a
material gloom. They sought for comfort in their religion, for tangible
hopes and promises, not for threatenings or mysteries; and though the
subjects chosen for the mosaics on the walls are of the most solemn
character, there are no artificial shadows cast upon them, nor dark
colors used in them: all is fair and bright, and intended evidently to
be regarded in hopefulness, and not with terror.

§ IX. For observe this choice of subjects. It is indeed possible that
the walls of the nave and aisles, which are now whitewashed, may have
been covered with fresco or mosaic, and thus have supplied a series of
subjects, on the choice of which we cannot speculate. I do not, however,
find record of the destruction of any such works; and I am rather
inclined to believe that at any rate the central division of the
building was originally decorated, as it is now, simply by mosaics
representing Christ, the Virgin, and the apostles, at one extremity, and
Christ coming to judgment at the other. And if so, I repeat, observe the
significance of this choice. Most other early churches are covered with
imagery sufficiently suggestive of the vivid interest of the builders in
the history and occupations of the world. Symbols or representations of
political events, portraits of living persons, and sculptures of
satirical, grotesque, or trivial subjects are of constant occurrence,
mingled with the more strictly appointed representations of scriptural
or ecclesiastical history; but at Torcello even these usual, and one
should have thought almost necessary, successions of Bible events do not
appear. The mind of the worshipper was fixed entirely upon two great
facts, to him the most precious of all facts,--the present mercy of
Christ to His Church, and His future coming to judge the world. That
Christ's mercy was, at this period, supposed chiefly to be attainable
through the pleading of the Virgin, and that therefore beneath the
figure of the Redeemer is seen that of the weeping Madonna in the act of
intercession, may indeed be matter of sorrow to the Protestant beholder,
but ought not to blind him to the earnestness and singleness of the
faith with which these men sought their sea-solitudes; not in hope of
founding new dynasties, or entering upon new epochs of prosperity, but
only to humble themselves before God, and to pray that in His infinite
mercy He would hasten the time when the sea should give up the dead
which were in it, and Death and Hell give up the dead which were in
them, and when they might enter into the better kingdom, "where the
wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest."

§ X. Nor were the strength and elasticity of their minds, even in the
least matters, diminished by thus looking forward to the close of all
things. On the contrary, nothing is more remarkable than the finish and
beauty of all the portions of the building, which seem to have been
actually executed for the place they occupy in the present structure.
The rudest are those which they brought with them from the mainland; the
best and most beautiful, those which appear to have been carved for
their island church: of these, the new capitals already noticed, and the
exquisite panel ornaments of the chancel screen, are the most
conspicuous; the latter form a low wall across the church between the
six small shafts whose places are seen in the plan, and serve to enclose
a space raised two steps above the level of the nave, destined for the
singers, and indicated also in the plan by an open line _a b c d_. The
bas-reliefs on this low screen are groups of peacocks and lions, two
face to face on each panel, rich and fantastic beyond description,
though not expressive of very accurate knowledge either of leonine or
pavonine forms. And it is not until we pass to the back of the stair of
the pulpit, which is connected with the northern extremity of this
screen, that we find evidence of the haste with which the church was

§ XI. The pulpit, however, is not among the least noticeable of its
features. It is sustained on the four small detached shafts marked at
_p_ in the plan, between the two pillars at the north side of the
screen; both pillars and pulpit studiously plain, while the staircase
which ascends to it is a compact mass of masonry (shaded in the plan),
faced by carved slabs of marble; the parapet of the staircase being also
formed of solid blocks like paving-stones, lightened by rich, but not
deep, exterior carving. Now these blocks, or at least those which adorn
the staircase towards the aisle, have been brought from the mainland;
and, being of size and shape not easily to be adjusted to the
proportions of the stair, the architect has cut out of them pieces of
the size he needed, utterly regardless of the subject or symmetry of the
original design. The pulpit is not the only place where this rough
procedure has been permitted: at the lateral door of the church are two
crosses, cut out of slabs of marble, formerly covered with rich
sculpture over their whole surfaces, of which portions are left on the
surface of the crosses; the lines of the original design being, of
course, just as arbitrarily cut by the incisions between the arms, as
the patterns upon a piece of silk which has been shaped anew. The fact
is, that in all early Romanesque work, large surfaces are covered with
sculpture for the sake of enrichment only; sculpture which indeed had
always meaning, because it was easier for the sculptor to work with some
chain of thought to guide his chisel, than without any; but it was not
always intended, or at least not always hoped, that this chain of
thought might be traced by the spectator. All that was proposed appears
to have been the enrichment of surface, so as to make it delightful to
the eye; and this being once understood, a decorated piece of marble
became to the architect just what a piece of lace or embroidery is to a
dressmaker, who takes of it such portions as she may require, with
little regard to the places where the patterns are divided. And though
it may appear, at first sight, that the procedure is indicative of
bluntness and rudeness of feeling, we may perceive, upon reflection,
that it may also indicate the redundance of power which sets little
price upon its own exertion. When a barbarous nation builds its
fortress-walls out of fragments of the refined architecture it has
overthrown, we can read nothing but its savageness in the vestiges of
art which may thus chance to have been preserved; but when the new work
is equal, if not superior, in execution, to the pieces of the older art
which are associated with it, we may justly conclude that the rough
treatment to which the latter have been subjected is rather a sign of
the hope of doing better things, than of want of feeling for those
already accomplished. And, in general, this careless fitting of ornament
is, in very truth, an evidence of life in the school of builders, and of
their making a due distinction between work which is to be used for
architectural effect, and work which is to possess an abstract
perfection; and it commonly shows also that the exertion of design is so
easy to them, and their fertility so inexhaustible, that they feel no
remorse in using somewhat injuriously what they can replace with so
slight an effort.

§ XII. It appears however questionable in the present instance, whether,
if the marbles had not been carved to his hand, the architect would have
taken the trouble to enrich them. For the execution of the rest of the
pulpit is studiously simple, and it is in this respect that its design
possesses, it seems to me, an interest to the religious spectator
greater than he will take in any other portion of the building. It is
supported, as I said, on a group of four slender shafts; itself of a
slightly oval form, extending nearly from one pillar of the nave to the
next, so as to give the preacher free room for the action of the entire
person, which always gives an unaffected impressiveness to the
eloquence of the southern nations. In the centre of its curved front, a
small bracket and detached shaft sustain the projection of a narrow
marble desk (occupying the place of a cushion in a modern pulpit), which
is hollowed out into a shallow curve on the upper surface, leaving a
ledge at the bottom of the slab, so that a book laid upon it, or rather
into it, settles itself there, opening as if by instinct, but without
the least chance of slipping to the side, or in any way moving beneath
the preacher's hands.[9] Six balls, or rather almonds, of purple marble
veined with white are set round the edge of the pulpit, and form its
only decoration. Perfectly graceful, but severe and almost cold in its
simplicity, built for permanence and service, so that no single member,
no stone of it, could be spared, and yet all are firm and uninjured as
when they were first set together, it stands in venerable contrast both
with the fantastic pulpits of mediæval cathedrals and with the rich
furniture of those of our modern churches. It is worth while pausing for
a moment to consider how far the manner of decorating a pulpit may have
influence on the efficiency of its service, and whether our modern
treatment of this, to us all-important, feature of a church be the best

§ XIII. When the sermon is good we need not much concern ourselves about
the form of the pulpit. But sermons cannot always be good; and I believe
that the temper in which the congregation set themselves to listen may
be in some degree modified by their perception of fitness or unfitness,
impressiveness or vulgarity, in the disposition of the place appointed
for the speaker,--not to the same degree, but somewhat in the same way,
that they may be influenced by his own gestures or expression,
irrespective of the sense of what he says. I believe, therefore, in the
first place, that pulpits ought never to be highly decorated; the
speaker is apt to look mean or diminutive if the pulpit is either on a
very large scale or covered with splendid ornament, and if the interest
of the sermon should flag the mind is instantly tempted to wander. I
have observed that in almost all cathedrals, when the pulpits are
peculiarly magnificent, sermons are not often preached from them; but
rather, and especially if for any important purpose, from some temporary
erection in other parts of the building: and though this may often be
done because the architect has consulted the effect upon the eye more
than the convenience of the ear in the placing of his larger pulpit, I
think it also proceeds in some measure from a natural dislike in the
preacher to match himself with the magnificence of the rostrum, lest the
sermon should not be thought worthy of the place. Yet this will rather
hold of the colossal sculptures, and pyramids of fantastic tracery which
encumber the pulpits of Flemish and German churches, than of the
delicate mosaics and ivory-like carving of the Romanesque basilicas, for
when the form is kept simple, much loveliness of color and costliness of
work may be introduced, and yet the speaker not be thrown into the shade
by them.

§ XIV. But, in the second place, whatever ornaments we admit ought
clearly to be of a chaste, grave, and noble kind; and what furniture we
employ, evidently more for the honoring of God's word than for the ease
of the preacher. For there are two ways of regarding a sermon, either as
a human composition, or a Divine message. If we look upon it entirely as
the first, and require our clergymen to finish it with their utmost care
and learning, for our better delight whether of ear or intellect, we
shall necessarily be led to expect much formality and stateliness in its
delivery, and to think that all is not well if the pulpit have not a
golden fringe round it, and a goodly cushion in front of it, and if the
sermon be not fairly written in a black book, to be smoothed upon the
cushion in a majestic manner before beginning; all this we shall duly
come to expect: but we shall at the same time consider the treatise thus
prepared as something to which it is our duty to listen without
restlessness for half an hour or three quarters, but which, when that
duty has been decorously performed, we may dismiss from our minds in
happy confidence of being provided with another when next it shall be
necessary. But if once we begin to regard the preacher, whatever his
faults, as a man sent with a message to us, which it is a matter of life
or death whether we hear or refuse; if we look upon him as set in charge
over many spirits in danger of ruin, and having allowed to him but an
hour or two in the seven days to speak to them; if we make some endeavor
to conceive how precious these hours ought to be to him, a small vantage
on the side of God after his flock have been exposed for six days
together to the full weight of the world's temptation, and he has been
forced to watch the thorn and the thistle springing in their hearts, and
to see what wheat had been scattered there snatched from the wayside by
this wild bird and the other, and at last, when breathless and weary
with the week's labor they give him this interval of imperfect and
languid hearing, he has but thirty minutes to get at the separate hearts
of a thousand men, to convince them of all their weaknesses, to shame
them for all their sins, to warn them of all their dangers, to try by
this way and that to stir the hard fastenings of those doors where the
Master himself has stood and knocked yet none opened, and to call at the
openings of those dark streets where Wisdom herself hath stretched forth
her hands and no man regarded,--thirty minutes to raise the dead
in,--let us but once understand and feel this, and we shall look with
changed eyes upon that frippery of gay furniture about the place from
which the message of judgment must be delivered, which either breathes
upon the dry bones that they may live, or, if ineffectual, remains
recorded in condemnation, perhaps against the utterer and listener
alike, but assuredly against one of them. We shall not so easily bear
with the silk and gold upon the seat of judgment, nor with ornament of
oratory in the mouth of the messenger: we shall wish that his words may
be simple, even when they are sweetest, and the place from which he
speaks like a marble rock in the desert, about which the people have
gathered in their thirst.

§ XV. But the severity which is so marked in the pulpit at Torcello is
still more striking in the raised seats and episcopal throne which
occupy the curve of the apse. The arrangement at first somewhat recalls
to the mind that of the Roman amphitheatres; the flight of steps which
lead up to the central throne divides the curve of the continuous steps
or seats (it appears in the first three ranges questionable which were
intended, for they seem too high for the one, and too low and close for
the other), exactly as in an amphitheatre the stairs for access
intersect the sweeping ranges of seats. But in the very rudeness of this
arrangement, and especially in the want of all appliances of comfort
(for the whole is of marble, and the arms of the central throne are not
for convenience, but for distinction, and to separate it more
conspicuously from the undivided seats), there is a dignity which no
furniture of stalls nor carving of canopies ever could attain, and well
worth the contemplation of the Protestant, both as sternly significative
of an episcopal authority which in the early days of the Church was
never disputed, and as dependent for all its impressiveness on the utter
absence of any expression either of pride or self-indulgence.

§ XVI. But there is one more circumstance which we ought to remember as
giving peculiar significance to the position which the episcopal throne
occupies in this island church, namely, that in the minds of all early
Christians the Church itself was most frequently symbolized under the
image of a ship, of which the bishop was the pilot. Consider the force
which this symbol would assume in the imaginations of men to whom the
spiritual Church had become an ark of refuge in the midst of a
destruction hardly less terrible than that from which the eight souls
were saved of old, a destruction in which the wrath of man had become as
broad as the earth and as merciless as the sea, and who saw the actual
and literal edifice of the Church raised up, itself like an ark in the
midst of the waters. No marvel if with the surf of the Adriatic rolling
between them and the shores of their birth, from which they were
separated for ever, they should have looked upon each other as the
disciples did when the storm came down on the Tiberias Lake, and have
yielded ready and loving obedience to those who ruled them in His name,
who had there rebuked the winds and commanded stillness to the sea. And
if the stranger would yet learn in what spirit it was that the dominion
of Venice was begun, and in what strength she went forth conquering and
to conquer, let him not seek to estimate the wealth of her arsenals or
number of her armies, nor look upon the pageantry of her palaces, nor
enter into the secrets of her councils; but let him ascend the highest
tier of the stern ledges that sweep round the altar of Torcello, and
then, looking as the pilot did of old along the marble ribs of the
goodly temple ship, let him repeople its veined deck with the shadows of
its dead mariners, and strive to feel in himself the strength of heart
that was kindled within them, when first, after the pillars of it had
settled in the sand, and the roof of it had been closed against the
angry sky that was still reddened by the fires of their
homesteads,--first, within the shelter of its knitted walls, amidst the
murmur of the waste of waves and the beating of the wings of the
sea-birds round the rock that was strange to them,--rose that ancient
hymn, in the power of their gathered voices:



  [4] Appendix 4, "Date of the Duomo of Torcello."

  [5] For a full account of the form and symbolical meaning of the
    Basilica, see Lord Lindsay's "Christian Art," vol. i. p. 12. It is
    much to be regretted that the Chevalier Bunsen's work on the
    Basilicas of Rome is not translated into English.

  [6] The measures are given in Appendix 3.

  [7] Hope's "Historical Essay on Architecture" (third edition, 1840),
    chap. ix. p. 95. In other respects Mr. Hope has done justice to this
    building, and to the style of the early Christian churches in

  [8] A sketch has been given of this capital in my folio work.

  [9] Appendix 5, "Modern Pulpits."



§ I. The decay of the city of Venice is, in many respects, like that of
an outwearied and aged human frame; the cause of its decrepitude is
indeed at the heart, but the outward appearances of it are first at the
extremities. In the centre of the city there are still places where some
evidence of vitality remains, and where, with kind closing of the eyes
to signs, too manifest even there, of distress and declining fortune,
the stranger may succeed in imagining, for a little while, what must
have been the aspect of Venice in her prime. But this lingering
pulsation has not force enough any more to penetrate into the suburbs
and outskirts of the city; the frost of death has there seized upon it
irrevocably, and the grasp of mortal disease is marked daily by the
increasing breadth of its belt of ruin. Nowhere is this seen more
grievously than along the great north-eastern boundary, once occupied by
the smaller palaces of the Venetians, built for pleasure or repose; the
nobler piles along the grand canal being reserved for the pomp and
business of daily life. To such smaller palaces some garden ground was
commonly attached, opening to the water-side; and, in front of these
villas and gardens, the lagoon was wont to be covered in the evening by
gondolas: the space of it between this part of the city and the island
group of Murano being to Venice, in her time of power, what its parks
are to London; only gondolas were used instead of carriages, and the
crowd of the population did not come out till towards sunset, and
prolonged their pleasures far into the night, company answering to
company with alternate singing.

§ II. If, knowing this custom of the Venetians, and with a vision in
his mind of summer palaces lining the shore, and myrtle gardens sloping
to the sea, the traveller now seeks this suburb of Venice, he will be
strangely and sadly surprised to find a new but perfectly desolate quay,
about a mile in length, extending from the arsenal to the Sacca della
Misericordia, in front of a line of miserable houses built in the course
of the last sixty or eighty years, yet already tottering to their ruin;
and not less to find that the principal object in the view which these
houses (built partly in front and partly on the ruins of the ancient
palaces) now command is a dead brick wall, about a quarter of a mile
across the water, interrupted only by a kind of white lodge, the
cheerfulness of which prospect is not enhanced by his finding that this
wall encloses the principal public cemetery of Venice. He may, perhaps,
marvel for a few moments at the singular taste of the old Venetians in
taking their pleasure under a churchyard wall: but, on further inquiry,
he will find that the building on the island, like those on the shore,
is recent, that it stands on the ruins of the Church of St. Cristoforo
della Pace; and that with a singular, because unintended, moral, the
modern Venetians have replaced the Peace of the Christ-bearer by the
Peace of Death, and where they once went, as the sun set daily, to their
pleasure, now go, as the sun sets to each of them for ever, to their

§ III. Yet the power of Nature cannot be shortened by the folly, nor her
beauty altogether saddened by the misery, of man. The broad tides still
ebb and flow brightly about the island of the dead, and the linked
conclave of the Alps know no decline from their old pre-eminence, nor
stoop from their golden thrones in the circle of the horizon. So lovely
is the scene still, in spite of all its injuries, that we shall find
ourselves drawn there again and again at evening out of the narrow
canals and streets of the city, to watch the wreaths of the sea-mists
weaving themselves like mourning veils around the mountains far away,
and listen to the green waves as they fret and sigh along the cemetery

§ IV. But it is morning now: we have a hard day's work to do at Murano,
and our boat shoots swiftly from beneath the last bridge of Venice, and
brings us out into the open sea and sky.

The pure cumuli of cloud lie crowded and leaning against one another,
rank beyond rank, far over the shining water, each cut away at its
foundation by a level line, trenchant and clear, till they sink to the
horizon like a flight of marble steps, except where the mountains meet
them, and are lost in them, barred across by the grey terraces of those
cloud foundations, and reduced into one crestless bank of blue, spotted
here and there with strange flakes of wan, aerial, greenish light,
strewed upon them like snow. And underneath is the long dark line of the
mainland, fringed with low trees; and then the wide-waving surface of
the burnished lagoon trembling slowly, and shaking out into forked bands
of lengthening light the images of the towers of cloud above. To the
north, there is first the great cemetery wall, then the long stray
buildings of Murano, and the island villages beyond, glittering in
intense crystalline vermilion, like so much jewellery scattered on a
mirror, their towers poised apparently in the air a little above the
horizon, and their reflections, as sharp and vivid and substantial as
themselves, thrown on the vacancy between them and the sea. And thus the
villages seem standing on the air; and, to the east, there is a cluster
of ships that seem sailing on the land; for the sandy line of the Lido
stretches itself between us and them, and we can see the tall white
sails moving beyond it, but not the sea, only there is a sense of the
great sea being indeed there, and a solemn strength of gleaming light in
sky above.

§ V. The most discordant feature in the whole scene is the cloud which
hovers above the glass furnaces of Murano; but this we may not regret,
as it is one of the last signs left of human exertion among the ruinous
villages which surround us. The silent gliding of the gondola brings it
nearer to us every moment; we pass the cemetery, and a deep sea-channel
which separates it from Murano, and finally enter a narrow water-street,
with a paved footpath on each side, raised three or four feet above the
canal, and forming a kind of quay between the water and the doors of the
houses. These latter are, for the most part, low, but built with massy
doors and windows of marble or Istrian stone, square-set and barred with
iron; buildings evidently once of no mean order, though now inhabited
only by the poor. Here and there an ogee window of the fourteenth
century, or a doorway deeply enriched with cable mouldings, shows itself
in the midst of more ordinary features; and several houses, consisting
of one story only carried on square pillars, forming a short arcade
along the quay, have windows sustained on shafts of red Verona marble,
of singular grace and delicacy. All now in vain: little care is there
for their delicacy or grace among the rough fishermen sauntering on the
quay with their jackets hanging loose from their shoulders, jacket and
cap and hair all of the same dark-greenish sea-grey. But there is some
life in the scene, more than is usual in Venice: the women are sitting
at their doors knitting busily, and various workmen of the glass-houses
sifting glass dust upon the pavement, and strange cries coming from one
side of the canal to the other, and ringing far along the crowded water,
from venders of figs and grapes, and gourds and shell-fish; cries partly
descriptive of the eatables in question, but interspersed with others of
a character unintelligible in proportion to their violence, and
fortunately so if we may judge by a sentence which is stencilled in
black, within a garland, on the whitewashed walls of nearly every other
house in the street, but which, how often soever written, no one seems
to regard: "Bestemme non più. Lodate Gesù."

§ VI. We push our way on between large barges laden with fresh water
from Fusina, in round white tubs seven feet across, and complicated
boats full of all manner of nets that look as if they could never be
disentangled, hanging from their masts and over their sides; and
presently pass under a bridge with the lion of St. Mark on its
archivolt, and another on a pillar at the end of the parapet, a small
red lion with much of the puppy in his face, looking vacantly up into
the air (in passing we may note that, instead of feathers, his wings are
covered with hair, and in several other points the manner of his
sculpture is not uninteresting). Presently the canal turns a little to
the left, and thereupon becomes more quiet, the main bustle of the
water-street being usually confined to the first straight reach of it,
some quarter of a mile long, the Cheapside of Murano. We pass a
considerable church on the left, St. Pietro, and a little square
opposite to it with a few acacia trees, and then find our boat suddenly
seized by a strong green eddy, and whirled into the tide-way of one of
the main channels of the lagoon, which divides the town of Murano into
two parts by a deep stream some fifty yards over, crossed only by one
wooden bridge. We let ourselves drift some way down the current, looking
at the low line of cottages on the other side of it, hardly knowing if
there be more cheerfulness or melancholy in the way the sunshine glows
on their ruinous but whitewashed walls, and sparkles on the rushing of
the green water by the grass-grown quay. It needs a strong stroke of the
oar to bring us into the mouth of another quiet canal on the farther
side of the tide-way, and we are still somewhat giddy when we run the
head of the gondola into the sand on the left-hand side of this more
sluggish stream, and land under the east end of the Church of San
Donato, the "Matrice" or "Mother" Church of Murano.

§ VII. It stands, it and the heavy campanile detached from it a few
yards, in a small triangular field of somewhat fresher grass than is
usual near Venice, traversed by a paved walk with green mosaic of short
grass between the rude squares of its stones, bounded on one side by
ruinous garden walls, on another by a line of low cottages, on the
third, the base of the triangle, by the shallow canal from which we have
just landed. Near the point of the triangular space is a simple well,
bearing date 1502; in its widest part, between the canal and campanile,
is a four-square hollow pillar, each side formed by a separate slab of
stone, to which the iron hasps are still attached that once secured the
Venetian standard.

The cathedral itself occupies the northern angle of the field,
encumbered with modern buildings, small outhouse-like chapels, and
wastes of white wall with blank square windows, and itself utterly
defaced in the whole body of it, nothing but the apse having been
spared; the original plan is only discoverable by careful examination,
and even then but partially. The whole impression and effect of the
building are irretrievably lost, but the fragments of it are still most

We must first briefly state what is known of its history.

§ VIII. The legends of the Romish Church, though generally more insipid
and less varied than those of Paganism, deserve audience from us on this
ground, if on no other, that they have once been sincerely believed by
good men, and have had no ineffective agency in the foundation of the
existent European mind. The reader must not therefore accuse me of
trifling, when I record for him the first piece of information I have
been able to collect respecting the cathedral of Murano: namely, that
the emperor Otho the Great, being overtaken by a storm on the Adriatic,
vowed, if he were preserved, to build and dedicate a church to the
Virgin, in whatever place might be most pleasing to her; that the storm
thereupon abated; and the Virgin appearing to Otho in a dream showed
him, covered with red lilies, that very triangular field on which we
were but now standing, amidst the ragged weeds and shattered pavement.
The emperor obeyed the vision; and the church was consecrated on the
15th of August, 957.

§ IX. Whatever degree of credence we may feel disposed to attach to this
piece of history, there is no question that a church was built on this
spot before the close of the tenth century: since in the year 999 we
find the incumbent of the Basilica (note this word, it is of some
importance) di Santa Maria Plebania di Murano taking an oath of
obedience to the Bishop of the Altinat church, and engaging at the same
time to give the said bishop his dinner on the Domenica in Albis, when
the prelate held a confirmation in the mother church, as it was then
commonly called, of Murano. From this period, for more than a century, I
can find no records of any alterations made in the fabric of the church,
but there exist very full details of the quarrels which arose between
its incumbents and those of San Stefano, San Cipriano, San Salvatore,
and the other churches of Murano, touching the due obedience which their
less numerous or less ancient brotherhoods owed to St. Mary's.

These differences seem to have been renewed at the election of every new
abbot by each of the fraternities, and must have been growing serious
when the patriarch of Grado, Henry Dandolo, interfered in 1102, and, in
order to seal a peace between the two principal opponents, ordered that
the abbot of St. Stephen's should be present at the service in St.
Mary's on the night of the Epiphany, and that the abbot of St. Mary's
should visit him of St. Stephen's on St. Stephen's day; and that then
the two abbots "should eat apples and drink good wine together, in peace
and charity."[10]

§ X. But even this kindly effort seems to have been without result: the
irritated pride of the antagonists remained unsoothed by the love-feast
of St. Stephen's day; and the breach continued to widen until the abbot
of St. Mary's obtained a timely accession to his authority in the year
1125. The Doge Domenico Michele, having in the second crusade secured
such substantial advantages for the Venetians as might well
counterbalance the loss of part of their trade with the East, crowned
his successes by obtaining possession in Cephalonia of the body of St.
Donato, bishop of Euroea; which treasure he having presented on his
return to the Murano basilica, that church was thenceforward called the
church of Sts. Mary and Donato. Nor was the body of the saint its only
acquisition: St. Donato's principal achievement had been the destruction
of a terrible dragon in Epirus; Michele brought home the bones of the
dragon as well as of the saint; the latter were put in a marble
sarcophagus, and the former hung up over the high altar.

§ XI. But the clergy of St. Stefano were indomitable. At the very moment
when their adversaries had received this formidable accession of
strength, they had the audacity "ad onta de' replicati giuramenti, e
dell'inveterata consuetudine,"[11] to refuse to continue in the
obedience which they had vowed to their mother church. The matter was
tried in a provincial council; the votaries of St. Stephen were
condemned, and remained quiet for about twenty years, in wholesome dread
of the authority conferred on the abbot of St. Donate, by the Pope's
legate, to suspend any o the clergy of the island from their office if
they refused submission. In 1172, however, they appealed to Pope
Alexander III, and were condemned again: and we find the struggle
renewed at every promising opportunity, during the course of the 12th
and 13th centuries; until at last, finding St. Donate and the dragon
together too strong for him, the abbot of St. Stefano "discovered" in
his church the bodies of two hundred martyrs at once!--a discovery, it
is to be remembered, in some sort equivalent in those days to that of
California in ours. The inscription, however, on the façade of the
church, recorded it with quiet dignity:--"MCCCLXXIV. a di XIV. di
Aprile. Furono trovati nella presente chiesa del protomartire San
Stefano, duecento e più corpi de' Santi Martiri, dal Ven. Prete Matteo
Fradello, piovano della chiesa."[12] Corner, who gives this inscription,
which no longer exists, goes on to explain with infinite gravity, that
the bodies in question, "being of infantile form and stature, are
reported by tradition to have belonged to those fortunate innocents who
suffered martyrdom under King Herod; but that when, or by whom, the
church was enriched with so vast a treasure, is not manifested by any

§ XII. The issue of the struggle is not to our present purpose. We have
already arrived at the fourteenth century without finding record of any
effort made by the clergy of St. Mary's to maintain their influence by
restoring or beautifying their basilica; which is the only point at
present of importance to us. That great alterations were made in it at
the time of the acquisition of the body of St. Donato is however highly
probable, the mosaic pavement of the interior, which bears its date
inscribed, 1140, being probably the last of the additions. I believe
that no part of the ancient church can be shown to be of more recent
date than this; and I shall not occupy the reader's time by any inquiry
respecting the epochs or authors of the destructive modern restorations;
the wreck of the old fabric, breaking out beneath them here and there,
is generally distinguishable from them at a glance; and it is enough for
the reader to know that none of these truly ancient fragments can be
assigned to a more recent date than 1140, and that some of them may with
probability be looked upon as remains of the shell of the first church,
erected in the course of the latter half of the tenth century. We shall
perhaps obtain some further reason for this belief as we examine these
remains themselves.

§ XIII. Of the body of the church, unhappily, they are few and obscure;
but the general form and extent of the building, as shown in the plan,
Plate I. fig. 2, are determined, first, by the breadth of the uninjured
east end D E; secondly, by some remains of the original brickwork of the
clerestory, and in all probability of the side walls also, though these
have been refaced; and finally by the series of nave shafts, which are
still perfect. The doors A and B may or may not be in their original
positions; there must of course have been always, as now, a principal
entrance at the west end. The ground plan is composed, like that of
Torcello, of nave and aisles only, but the clerestory has transepts
extending as far as the outer wall of the aisles. The semicircular apse,
thrown out in the centre of the east end, is now the chief feature of
interest in the church, though the nave shafts and the eastern
extremities of the aisles, outside, are also portions of the original
building; the latter having been modernized in the interior, it cannot
now be ascertained whether, as is probable, the aisles had once round
ends as well as the choir. The spaces F G form small chapels, of which G
has a straight terminal wall behind its altar, and F a curved one,
marked by the dotted line; the partitions which divide these chapels
from the presbytery are also indicated by dotted lines, being modern

§ XIV. The plan is drawn carefully to scale, but the relation in which
its proportions are disposed can hardly be appreciated by the eye. The
width of the nave from shaft to opposite shaft is 32 feet 8 inches: of
the aisles, from the shaft to the wall, 16 feet 2 inches, or allowing 2
inches for the thickness of the modern wainscot, 16 feet 4 inches, half
the breadth of the nave exactly. The intervals between the shafts are
exactly one fourth of the width of the nave, or 8 feet 2 inches, and the
distance between the great piers which form the pseudo-transept is 24
feet 6 inches, exactly three times the interval of the shafts. So the
four distances are accurately in arithmetical proportion; i.e.

                                  Ft. In.
  Interval of shafts               8   2
  Width of aisle                  16   4
  Width of transept               24   6
  Width of nave                   32   8

The shafts average 5 feet 4 inches in circumference, as near the base as
they can be got at, being covered with wood; and the broadest sides of
the main piers are 4 feet 7 inches wide, their narrowest sides 3 feet 6
inches. The distance _a c_ from the outmost angle of these piers to the
beginning of the curve of the apse is 25 feet, and from that point the
apse is nearly semicircular, but it is so encumbered with renaissance
fittings that its form cannot be ascertained with perfect accuracy. It
is roofed by a concha, or semi-dome; and the external arrangement of its
walls provides for the security of this dome by what is, in fact, a
system of buttresses as effective and definite as that of any of the
northern churches, although the buttresses are obtained entirely by
adaptations of the Roman shaft and arch, the lower story being formed by
a thick mass of wall lightened by ordinary semicircular round-headed
niches, like those used so extensively afterwards in renaissance
architecture, each niche flanked by a pair of shafts standing clear of
the wall, and bearing deeply moulded arches thrown over the niche. The
wall with its pillars thus forms a series of massy buttresses (as seen
in the ground plan), on the top of which is an open gallery, backed by a
thinner wall, and roofed by arches whose shafts are set above the pairs
of shafts below. On the heads of these arches rests the roof. We have,
therefore, externally a heptagonal apse, chiefly of rough and common
brick, only with marble shafts and a few marble ornaments; but for that
very reason all the more interesting, because it shows us what may be
done, and what was done, with materials such as are now at our own
command; and because in its proportions, and in the use of the few
ornaments it possesses, it displays a delicacy of feeling rendered
doubly notable by the roughness of the work in which laws so subtle are
observed, and with which so thoughtful ornamentation is associated.

§ XV. First, for its proportions: I shall have occasion in Chapter V. to
dwell at some length on the peculiar subtlety of the early Venetian
perception for ratios of magnitude; the relations of the sides of this
heptagonal apse supply one of the first and most curious instances of
it. The proportions above given of the nave and aisles might have been
dictated by a mere love of mathematical precision; but those of the apse
could only have resulted from a true love of harmony.

In fig. 6, Plate I. the plan of this part of the church is given on a
large scale, showing that its seven external sides are arranged on a
line less than a semicircle, so that if the figure were completed, it
would have sixteen sides; and it will be observed also, that the seven
sides are arranged in four magnitudes, the widest being the central one.
The brickwork is so much worn away, that the measures of the arches are
not easily ascertainable, but those of the plinth on which they stand,
which is nearly uninjured, may be obtained accurately. This plinth is
indicated by the open line in the ground plan, and its sides measure

                                  Ft.  In.
  1st. _a b_ in plan               6    7
  2nd. _b c_                       7    7
  3rd. _c d_                       7    5
  4th. _d e_ (central)             7   10
  5th. _e f_                       7    5
  6th  _f g_                       7    8
  7th. _g h_                       6   10

§ XVI. Now observe what subtle feeling is indicated by this delicacy of
proportion. How fine must the perceptions of grace have been in those
builders who could not be content without _some_ change between the
second and third, the fifth and sixth terms of proportion, such as
should oppose the general direction of its cadence, and yet _were_
content with a diminution of two inches on a breadth of seven feet and a
half! For I do not suppose that the reader will think the curious
lessening of the third and fifth arch a matter of accident, and even if
he did so, I shall be able to prove to him hereafter that it was not,
but that the early builders were always desirous of obtaining some
alternate proportion of this kind. The relations of the numbers are not
easily comprehended in the form of feet and inches, but if we reduce the
first four of them into inches, and then subtract some constant number,
suppose 75, from them all, the remainders 4, 16, 14, 19, will exhibit
the ratio of proportion in a clearer, though exaggerated form.

§ XVII. The pairs of circular spots at _b_, _c_, _d_, etc., on the
ground plan fig. 6, represent the bearing shafts, which are all of solid
marble as well as their capitals. Their measures and various other
particulars respecting them are given in Appendix 6. "Apse of Murano;"
here I only wish the reader to note the coloring of their capitals.
Those of the two single shafts in the angles (_a_, _h_) are both of deep
purple marble; the two next pairs, _b_ and _g_, are of white marble; the
pairs _c_ and _f_ are of purple, and _d_ and _e_ are of white: thus
alternating with each other on each side; two white meeting in the
centre. Now observe, _the purple capitals are all left plain; the white
are all sculptured_. For the old builders knew that by carving the
purple capitals they would have injured them in two ways: first, they
would have mixed a certain quantity of grey shadow with the surface hue,
and so adulterated the purity of the color; secondly, they would have
drawn away the thoughts from the color, and prevented the mind from
fixing upon it or enjoying it, by the degree of attention which the
sculpture would have required. So they left their purple capitals full
broad masses of color; and sculptured the white ones, which would
otherwise have been devoid of interest.

§ XVIII. But the feature which is most to be noted in this apse is a
band of ornament, which runs round it like a silver girdle, composed of
sharp wedges of marble, preciously inlaid, and set like jewels into the
brickwork; above it there is another band of triangular recesses in the
bricks, of nearly similar shape, and it seems equally strange that all
the marbles should have fallen from it, or that it should have been
originally destitute of them. The reader may choose his hypothesis; but
there is quite enough left to interest us in the lower band, which is
fortunately left in its original state, as is sufficiently proved by the
curious niceties in the arrangement of its colors, which are assuredly
to be attributed to the care of the first builder. A word or two, in the
first place, respecting the means of color at his disposal.

§ XIX. I stated that the building was, for the most part, composed of
yellow brick. This yellow is very nearly pure, much more positive and
somewhat darker than that of our English light brick, and the material
of the brick is very good and hard, looking, in places, almost
vitrified, and so compact as to resemble stone. Together with this brick
occurs another of a deep full red, and more porous substance, which is
used for decoration chiefly, while all the parts requiring strength are
composed of the yellow brick. Both these materials are _cast into any
shape and size_ the builder required, either into curved pieces for the
arches, or flat tiles for filling the triangles; and, what is still more
curious, the thickness of the yellow bricks used for the walls varies
considerably, from two inches to four; and their length also, some of
the larger pieces used in important positions being a foot and a half

With these two kinds of brick, the builder employed five or six kinds of
marble: pure white, and white veined with purple; a brecciated marble of
white and black; a brecciated marble of white and deep green; another,
deep red, or nearly of the color of Egyptian porphyry; and a grey and
black marble, in fine layers.

§ XX. The method of employing these materials will be understood at once
by a reference to the opposite plate (Plate III.), which represents two
portions of the lower band. I could not succeed in expressing the
variation and chequering of color in marble, by real tints in the print;
and have been content, therefore, to give them in line engraving. The
different triangles are, altogether, of ten kinds:

  a. Pure white marble with sculptured surface (as the third and fifth
       in the upper series of Plate III.).

  b. Cast triangle of red brick with a sculptured round-headed piece of
       white marble inlaid (as the first and seventh of the upper
       series, Plate III.).

  c. A plain triangle of greenish black marble, now perhaps
       considerably paler in color than when first employed (as the
       second and sixth of the upper series of Plate III.).

  d. Cast red brick triangle, with a diamond inlaid of the
       above-mentioned black marble (as the fourth in the upper series
       of Plate III.).

  e. Cast white brick, with an inlaid round-headed piece of marble,
       variegated with black and yellow, or white and violet (not seen
       in the plate).

  f. Occurs only once, a green-veined marble, forming the upper part of
       the triangle, with a white piece below.

  g. Occurs only once. A brecciated marble of intense black and pure
       white, the centre of the lower range in Plate III.

  h. Sculptured white marble with a triangle of veined purple marble
       inserted (as the first, third, fifth, and seventh of the lower
       range in Plate III.).

  i. Yellow or white marble veined with purple (as the second and sixth
       of the lower range in Plate III.).

  k. Pure purple marble, not seen in this plate.

[Illustration: Plate III.
               INLAID BANDS OF MURANO.]

§ XXI. The band, then, composed of these triangles, set close to each
other in varied but not irregular relations, is thrown, like a necklace
of precious stones, round the apse and along the ends of the aisles;
each side of the apse taking, of course, as many triangles as its width
permits. If the reader will look back to the measures of the sides of
the apse, given before, p. 42, he will see that the first and seventh of
the series, being much narrower than the rest, cannot take so many
triangles in their band. Accordingly, they have only six each, while the
other five sides have seven. Of these groups of seven triangles each,
that used for the third and fifth sides of the apse is the uppermost in
Plate III.; and that used for the centre of the apse, and of the whole
series, is the lowermost in the same plate; _the piece of black and
white marble being used to emphasize the centre of the chain_, exactly
as a painter would use a dark touch for a similar purpose.

§ XXII. And now, with a little trouble, we can set before the reader, at
a glance, the arrangement of the groups along the entire extremity of
the church.

There are thirteen recesses, indicative of thirteen arches, seen in the
ground plan, fig. 2, Plate I. Of these, the second and twelfth arches
rise higher than the rest; so high as to break the decorated band; and
the groups of triangles we have to enumerate are, therefore, only eleven
in number; one above each of the eleven low arches. And of these eleven,
the first and second, tenth and eleventh, are at the ends of the aisles;
while the third to the ninth, inclusive, go round the apse. Thus, in the
following table, the numerals indicate the place of each entire group
(counting from the south to the north side of the church, or from left
to right), and the letters indicate the species of triangle of which it
is composed, as described in the list given above.

                        6. h. i. h. g. h. i. h.
         5. b. c. a. d. a. c. b.       7. b. c. a. d. a. c. b.
      4. b. a. b. c. a. e. a.             8. a. e. a. c. b. a. b.
    3. b. a. b. e. b. a.                       9. a. b. e. b. a. b.
  2. a. b. c.                                     10. a. b. c. b.
  1. a. b. c. b. a.                               11. b. a. c. f. a. a.

The central group is put first, that it may be seen how the series on
the two sides of the apse answer each other. It was a very curious freak
to insert the triangle e, in the outermost place _but one_ of both the
fourth and eighth sides of the apse, and in the outermost _but two_ in
the third and ninth; in neither case having any balance to it in its own
group, and the real balance being only effected on the other side of the
apse, which it is impossible that any one should see at the same time.
This is one of the curious pieces of system which so often occur in
mediæval work, of which the key is now lost. The groups at the ends of
the transepts correspond neither in number nor arrangement; we shall
presently see why, but must first examine more closely the treatment of
the triangles themselves, and the nature of the floral sculpture
employed upon them.

[Illustration: Plate IV.
               SCULPTURES OF MURANO.]

§ XXIII. As the scale of Plate III. is necessarily small, I have given
three of the sculptured triangles on a larger scale in Plate IV.
opposite. Fig. 3 is one of the four in the lower series of Plate IV.,
and figs. 4 and 5 from another group. The forms of the trefoils are here
seen more clearly; they, and all the other portions of the design, are
thrown out in low and flat relief, the intermediate spaces being cut out
to the depth of about a quarter of an inch. I believe these vacant
spaces were originally filled with a black composition, which is used in
similar sculptures at St. Mark's, and of which I found some remains in
an archivolt moulding here, though not in the triangles. The surface of
the whole would then be perfectly smooth, and the ornamental form
relieved by a ground of dark grey; but, even though this ground is lost,
the simplicity of the method insures the visibility of all its parts at
the necessary distance (17 or 18 feet), and the quaint trefoils have a
crispness and freshness of effect which I found it almost impossible to
render in a drawing. Nor let us fail to note in passing how strangely
delightful to the human mind the trefoil always is. We have it here
repeated five or six hundred times in the space of a few yards, and yet
are never weary of it. In fact, there are two mystical feelings at the
root of our enjoyment of this decoration: the one is the love of
trinity in unity, the other that of the sense of fulness with order; of
every place being instantly filled, and yet filled with propriety and
ease; the leaves do not push each other, nor put themselves out of their
own way, and yet whenever there is a vacant space, a leaf is always
ready to step in and occupy it.

§ XXIV. I said the trefoil was five or six hundred times repeated. It is
so, but observe, it is hardly ever twice of the same size; and this law
is studiously and resolutely observed. In the carvings _a_ and _b_ of
the upper series, Plate III., the diminution of the leaves might indeed
seem merely representative of the growth of the plant. But look at the
lower: the triangles of inlaid purple marble are made much more nearly
equilateral than those of white marble, into whose centres they are set,
so that the leaves may continually diminish in size as the ornament
descends at the sides. The reader may perhaps doubt the accuracy of the
drawing on the smaller scale, but in that given larger, fig. 3, Plate
IV., the angles are all measured, and the _purposeful_ variation of
width in the border therefore admits of no dispute.[14] Remember how
absolutely this principle is that of nature; the same leaf continually
repeated, but never twice of the same size. Look at the clover under
your feet, and then you will see what this Murano builder meant, and
that he was not altogether a barbarian.

§ XXV. Another point I wish the reader to observe is, the importance
attached to _color_ in the mind of the designer. Note especially--for it
is of the highest importance to see how the great principles of art are
carried out through the whole building--that, as only the white capitals
are sculptured below, only the white triangles are sculptured above. No
colored triangle is touched with sculpture; note also, that in the two
principal groups of the apse, given in Plate III., the centre of the
group is color, not sculpture, and the eye is evidently intended to be
drawn as much to the chequers of the stone, as to the intricacies of the
chiselling. It will be noticed also how much more precious the lower
series, which is central in the apse, is rendered, than the one above it
in the plate, which flanks it: there is no brick in the lower one, and
three kinds of variegated marble are used in it, whereas the upper is
composed of brick, with black and white marble only; and lastly--for
this is especially delightful--see how the workman made his chiselling
finer where it was to go with the variegated marbles, and used a bolder
pattern with the coarser brick and dark stone. The subtlety and
perfection of artistical feeling in all this are so redundant, that in
the building itself the eye can rest upon this colored chain with the
same kind of delight that it has in a piece of the embroidery of Paul

[Illustration: Fig. II.]

§ XXVI. Such being the construction of the lower band, that of the upper
is remarkable only for the curious change in its proportions. The two
are separated, as seen in the little woodcut here at the side, by a
string-course composed of two layers of red bricks, of which the
uppermost projects as a cornice, and is sustained by an intermediate
course of irregular brackets, obtained by setting the thick yellow
bricks edgeways, in the manner common to this day. But the wall above is
carried up perpendicularly from this projection, so that the whole upper
band is advanced to the thickness of a brick over the lower one. The
result of this is, of course, that each side of the apse is four or five
inches broader above than below; so that the same number of triangles
which filled a whole side of the lower band, leave an inch or two blank
at each angle in the upper. This would have looked awkward, if there had
been the least appearance of its being an accidental error; so that, in
order to draw the eye to it, and show that it is done on purpose, the
upper triangles are made about two inches higher than the lower ones, so
as to be much more acute in proportion and effect, and actually to
look considerably narrower, though of the same width at the base. By
this means they are made lighter in effect, and subordinated to the
richly decorated series of the lower band, and the two courses, instead
of repeating, unite with each other, and become a harmonious whole.

[Illustration: Plate V.
               Archivolt in the Duomo of Murano.]

In order, however, to make still more sure that this difference in the
height of the triangles should not escape the eye, another course of
plain bricks is added above their points, increasing the width of the
band by another two inches. There are five courses of bricks in the
lower band, and it measures 1 ft. 6 in. in height: there are seven
courses in the upper (of which six fall between the triangles), and it
measures 1 ft. 10 in. in height, except at the extremity of the northern
aisle, where for some mysterious reason the intermediate cornice is
sloped upwards so as to reduce the upper triangles to the same height as
those below. And here, finally, observe how determined the builder was
that the one series should not be a mere imitation of the other; he
could not now make them acute by additional height--so he here, and here
only, _narrowed their bases_, and we have seven of them above, to six

§ XXVII. We come now to the most interesting portion of the whole east
end, the archivolt at the end of the northern aisle.

It was above stated, that the band of triangles was broken by two higher
arches at the ends of the aisles. That, however, on the northern side of
the apse does not entirely interrupt, but lifts it, and thus forms a
beautiful and curious archivolt, drawn opposite, in Plate V. The upper
band of triangles cannot rise together with the lower, as it would
otherwise break the cornice prepared to receive the second story; and
the curious zigzag with which its triangles die away against the sides
of the arch, exactly as waves break upon the sand, is one of the most
curious features in the structure.

It will be also seen that there is a new feature in the treatment of the
band itself when it turns the arch. Instead of leaving the bricks
projecting between the sculptured or colored stones, reversed triangles
of marble are used, inlaid to an equal depth with the others in the
brickwork, but projecting beyond them so as to produce a sharp dark line
of zigzag at their junctions. Three of these supplementary stones have
unhappily fallen out, so that it is now impossible to determine the full
harmony of color in which they were originally arranged. The central
one, corresponding to the keystone in a common arch, is, however, most
fortunately left, with two lateral ones on the right hand, and one on
the left.

§ XXVIII. The keystone, if it may be so called, is of white marble, the
lateral voussoirs of purple; and these are the only colored stones in
the whole building which are sculptured; but they are sculptured in a
way which, more satisfactorily proves that the principle above stated
was understood by the builders, than if they had been left blank. The
object, observe, was to make the archivolt as rich as possible; eight of
the white sculptured marbles were used upon it in juxtaposition. Had the
purple marbles been left altogether plain, they would have been out of
harmony with the elaboration of the rest. It became necessary to touch
them with sculpture as a mere sign of carefulness and finish, but at the
same time destroying their colored surface as little as possible. _The
ornament is merely outlined upon them with a fine incision_, as if it
had been etched out on their surface preparatory to being carved. In two
of them it is composed merely of three concentric lines, parallel with
the sides of the triangle; in the third, it is a wreath of beautiful
design, which I have drawn of larger size in fig. 2, Plate V., that the
reader may see how completely the surface is left undestroyed by the
delicate incisions of the chisel, and may compare the method of working
with that employed on the white stones, two of which are given in that
plate, figs. 4 and 5. The keystone, of which we have not yet spoken, is
the only white stone worked with the light incision; its design not
being capable of the kind of workmanship given to the floral ornaments,
and requiring either to be carved in complete relief, or left as we see
it. It is given at fig. 1 of Plate IV. The sun and moon on each side of
the cross are, as we shall see in the fifth Chapter, constantly employed
on the keystones of Byzantine arches.

§ XXIX. We must not pass without notice the grey and green pieces of
marble inserted at the flanks of the arch. For, observe, there was a
difficulty in getting the forms of the triangle into anything like
reconciliation at this point, and a mediæval artist always delights in a
difficulty: instead of concealing it, he boasts of it; and just as we
saw above that he directed the eye to the difficulty of filling the
expanded sides of the upper band by elongating his triangles, so here,
having to put in a piece of stone of awkward shape, he makes that very
stone the most conspicuous in the whole arch, on both sides, by using in
one case a dark, cold grey; in the other a vigorous green, opposed to
the warm red and purple and white of the stones above and beside it. The
green and white piece on the right is of a marble, as far as I know,
exceedingly rare. I at first thought the white fragments were inlaid, so
sharply are they defined upon their ground. They are indeed inlaid, but
I believe it is by nature; and that the stone is a calcareous breccia of
great mineralogical interest. The white spots are of singular value in
giving piquancy to the whole range of more delicate transitional hues
above. The effect of the whole is, however, generally injured by the
loss of the three large triangles above. I have no doubt they were
purple, like those which remain, and that the whole arch was thus one
zone of white, relieved on a purple ground, encircled by the scarlet
cornices of brick, and the whole chord of color contrasted by the two
precious fragments of grey and green at either side.

§ XXX. The two pieces of carved stone inserted at each side of the arch,
as seen at the bottom of Plate V., are of different workmanship from the
rest; they do not match each other, and form part of the evidence which
proves that portions of the church had been brought from the mainland.
One bears an inscription, which, as its antiquity is confirmed by the
shapelessness of its letters, I was much gratified by not being able to
read; but M. Lazari, the intelligent author of the latest and best
Venetian guide, with better skill, has given as much of it as remains,


I have printed the letters as they are placed in the inscription, in
order that the reader may form some idea of the difficulty of reading
such legends when the letters, thus thrown into one heap, are themselves
of strange forms, and half worn away; any gaps which at all occur
between them coming in the wrong places. There is no doubt, however, as
to the reading of this fragment:--"T ... Sancte Marie Domini Genetricis
et beati Estefani martiri ego indignus et peccator Domenicus T." On
these two initial and final T's, expanding one into Templum, the other
into Torcellanus, M. Lazari founds an ingenious conjecture that the
inscription records the elevation of the church under a certain bishop
Dominic of Torcello (named in the Altinat Chronicle), who flourished in
the middle of the ninth century. If this were so, as the inscription
occurs broken off on a fragment inserted scornfully in the present
edifice, this edifice must be of the twelfth century, worked with
fragments taken from the ruins of that built in the ninth. The two T's
are, however, hardly a foundation large enough to build the church upon,
a hundred years before the date assigned to it both by history and
tradition (see above, § VIII.): and the reader has yet to be made aware
of the principal fact bearing on the question.

§ XXXI. Above the first story of the apse runs, as he knows already, a
gallery under open arches, protected by a light balustrade. This
balustrade is worked on the _outside_ with mouldings, of which I shall
only say at present that they are of exactly the same school as the
greater part of the work of the existing church. But the great
horizontal pieces of stone which form the top of this balustrade are
fragments of an older building turned inside out. They are covered with
sculptures on the back, only to be seen by mounting into the gallery.
They have once had an arcade of low wide arches traced on their surface,
the spandrils filled with leafage, and archivolts enriched with studded
chainwork and with crosses in their centres. These pieces have been used
as waste marble by the architect of the existing apse. The small arches
of the present balustrade are cut mercilessly through the old work, and
the profile of the balustrade is cut out of what was once the back of
the stone; only some respect is shown for the crosses in the old design,
the blocks are cut so that these shall be not only left uninjured, but
come in the centre of the balustrades.

§ XXXII. Now let the reader observe carefully that this balustrade of
Murano is a fence of other things than the low gallery round the
deserted apse. It is a barrier between two great schools of early
architecture. On one side it was cut by Romanesque workmen of the early
Christian ages, and furnishes us with a distinct type of a kind of
ornament which, as we meet with other examples of it, we shall be able
to describe in generic terms, and to throw back behind this balustrade,
out of our way. The _front_ of the balustrade presents us with a totally
different condition of design, less rich, more graceful, and here shown
in its simplest possible form. From the outside of this bar of marble we
shall commence our progress in the study of existing Venetian
architecture. The only question is, do we begin from the tenth or from
the twelfth century?

§ XXXIII. I was in great hopes once of being able to determine this
positively; but the alterations in all the early buildings of Venice are
so numerous, and the foreign fragments introduced so innumerable, that I
was obliged to leave the question doubtful. But one circumstance must be
noted, bearing upon it closely.

In the woodcut on page 50, Fig. III., _b_ is an archivolt of Murano, _a_
one of St. Mark's; the latter acknowledged by all historians and all
investigators to be of the twelfth century.

_All_ the twelfth century archivolts in Venice, without exception, are
on the model of _a_, differing only in their decorations and sculpture.
There is not one which resembles that of Murano.

But the deep mouldings of Murano are almost exactly similar to those of
St. Michele of Pavia, and other Lombard churches built, some as early as
the seventh, others in the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries.

On this ground it seems to me probable that the existing apse of Murano
is part of the original earliest church, and that the inscribed
fragments used in it have been brought from the mainland. The
balustrade, however, may still be later than the rest; it will be
examined, hereafter, more carefully.[15]

I have not space to give any farther account of the exterior of the
building, though one half of what is remarkable in it remains untold. We
must now see what is left of interest within the walls.

[Illustration: Fig. III.]

§ XXXIV. All hope is taken away by our first glance; for it falls on a
range of shafts whose bases are concealed by wooden panelling, and which
sustain arches decorated in the most approved style of Renaissance
upholstery, with stucco roses in squares under the soffits, and egg and
arrow mouldings on the architraves, gilded, on a ground of spotty black
and green, with a small pink-faced and black-eyed cherub on every
keystone; the rest of the church being for the most part concealed
either by dirty hangings, or dirtier whitewash, or dim pictures on
warped and wasting canvas; all vulgar, vain, and foul. Yet let us not
turn back, for in the shadow of the apse our more careful glance shows
us a Greek Madonna, pictured on a field of gold; and we feel giddy at
the first step we make on the pavement, for it, also, is of Greek mosaic
waved like the sea, and dyed like a dove's neck.

§ XXXV. Nor are the original features of the rest of the edifice
altogether indecipherable; the entire series of shafts marked in the
ground plan on each side of the nave, from the western entrance to the
apse, are nearly uninjured; and I believe the stilted arches they
sustain are those of the original fabric, though the masonry is covered
by the Renaissance stucco mouldings. Their capitals, for a wonder, are
left bare, and appear to have sustained no farther injury than has
resulted from the insertion of a large brass chandelier into each of
their abaci, each chandelier carrying a sublime wax candle two inches
thick, fastened with wire to the wall above. The due arrangement of
these appendages, previous to festal days, can only be effected from a
ladder set against the angle of the abacus; and ten minutes before I
wrote this sentence, I had the privilege of watching the candlelighter
at his work, knocking his ladder about the heads of the capitals as if
they had given him personal offence. He at last succeeded in breaking
away one of the lamps altogether, with a bit of the marble of the
abacus; the whole falling in ruin to the pavement, and causing much
consultation and clamor among a tribe of beggars who were assisting the
sacristan with their wisdom respecting the festal arrangements.

§ XXXVI. It is fortunate that the capitals themselves, being somewhat
rudely cut, can bear this kind of treatment better than most of those in
Venice. They are all founded on the Corinthian type, but the leaves are
in every one different: those of the easternmost capital of the southern
range are the best, and very beautiful, but presenting no feature of
much interest, their workmanship being inferior to most of the
imitations of Corinthian common at the period; much more to the rich
fantasies which we have seen at Torcello. The apse itself, to-day (12th
September, 1851), is not to be described; for just in front of it,
behind the altar, is a magnificent curtain of new red velvet with a
gilt edge and two golden tassels, held up in a dainty manner by two
angels in the upholsterer's service; and above all, for concentration of
effect, a star or sun, some five feet broad, the spikes of which conceal
the whole of the figure of the Madonna except the head and hands.

§ XXXVII. The pavement is however still left open, and it is of infinite
interest, although grievously distorted and defaced. For whenever a new
chapel has been built, or a new altar erected, the pavement has been
broken up and readjusted so as to surround the newly inserted steps or
stones with some appearance of symmetry; portions of it either covered or
carried away, others mercilessly shattered or replaced by modern
imitations, and those of very different periods, with pieces of the old
floor left here and there in the midst of them, and worked round so as to
deceive the eye into acceptance of the whole as ancient. The portion,
however, which occupies the western extremity of the nave, and the parts
immediately adjoining it in the aisles, are, I believe, in their original
positions, and very little injured: they are composed chiefly of groups
of peacocks, lions, stags, and griffins,--two of each in a group,
drinking out of the same vase, or shaking claws together,--enclosed by
interlacing bands, and alternating with chequer or star patterns, and
here and there an attempt at representation of architecture, all worked
in marble mosaic. The floors of Torcello and of St. Mark's are executed
in the same manner; but what remains at Murano is finer than either, in
the extraordinary play of color obtained by the use of variegated
marbles. At St. Mark's the patterns are more intricate, and the pieces
far more skilfully set together; but each piece is there commonly of one
color: at Murano every fragment is itself variegated, and all are
arranged with a skill and feeling not to be caught, and to be observed
with deep reverence, for that pavement is not dateless, like the rest of
the church; it bears its date on one of its central circles, 1140, and
is, in my mind, one of the most precious monuments in Italy, showing thus
early, and in those rude chequers which the bared knee of the Murano
fisher wears in its daily bending, the beginning of that mighty spirit of
Venetian color, which was to be consummated in Titian.

§ XXXVIII. But we must quit the church for the present, for its
garnishings are completed; the candles are all upright in their sockets,
and the curtains drawn into festoons, and a paste-board crescent, gay
with artificial flowers, has been attached to the capital of every
pillar, in order, together with the gilt angels, to make the place look
as much like Paradise as possible. If we return to-morrow, we shall find
it filled with woful groups of aged men and women, wasted and
fever-struck, fixed in paralytic supplication, half-kneeling,
half-couched upon the pavement; bowed down, partly in feebleness, partly
in a fearful devotion, with their grey clothes cast far over their
faces, ghastly and settled into a gloomy animal misery, all but the
glittering eyes and muttering lips.

Fit inhabitants, these, for what was once the Garden of Venice, "a
terrestrial paradise,--a place of nymphs and demi-gods!"[16]

§ XXXIX. We return, yet once again, on the following day. Worshippers
and objects of worship, the sickly crowd and gilded angels, all are
gone; and there, far in the apse, is seen the sad Madonna standing in
her folded robe, lifting her hands in vanity of blessing. There is
little else to draw away our thoughts from the solitary image. An old
wooden tablet, carved into a rude effigy of San Donato, which occupies
the central niche in the lower part of the tribune, has an interest of
its own, but is unconnected with the history of the older church. The
faded frescoes of saints, which cover the upper tier of the wall of the
apse, are also of comparatively recent date, much more the piece of
Renaissance workmanship, shaft and entablature, above the altar, which
has been thrust into the midst of all, and has cut away part of the feet
of the Madonna. Nothing remains of the original structure but the
semi-dome itself, the cornice whence it springs, which is the same as
that used on the exterior of the church, and the border and face-arch
which surround it. The ground of the dome is of gold, unbroken except by
the upright Madonna, and usual inscription, M R [Greek: Theta] V. The
figure wears a robe of blue, deeply fringed with gold, which seems to be
gathered on the head and thrown back on the shoulders, crossing the
breast, and falling in many folds to the ground. The under robe, shown
beneath it where it opens at the breast, is of the same color; the
whole, except the deep gold fringe, being simply the dress of the women
of the time. "Le donne, anco elle del 1100, vestivano _di turchino con
manti in spalla_, che le coprivano dinanzi e di dietro."[17]

Round the dome there is a colored mosaic border; and on the edge of its
arch, legible by the whole congregation, this inscription:


The whole edifice is, therefore, simply a temple to the Virgin: to her
is ascribed the fact of Redemption, and to her its praise.

§ XL. "And is this," it will be asked of me, "the time, is this the
worship, to which you would have us look back with reverence and
regret?" Inasmuch as redemption is ascribed to the Virgin, No. Inasmuch
as redemption is a thing desired, believed, rejoiced in, Yes,--and Yes a
thousand times. As far as the Virgin is worshipped in place of God, No;
but as far as there is the evidence of worship itself, and of the sense
of a Divine presence, Yes. For there is a wider division of men than
that into Christian and Pagan: before we ask what a man worships, we
have to ask whether he worships at all. Observe Christ's own words on
this head: "God is a spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him
in spirit, _and_ in truth." The worshipping in spirit comes first, and
it does not necessarily imply the worshipping in truth. Therefore, there
is first the broad division of men into Spirit worshippers and Flesh
worshippers; and then, of the Spirit worshippers, the farther division
into Christian and Pagan,--worshippers in Falsehood or in Truth. I
therefore, for the moment, omit all inquiry how far the Mariolatry of
the early church did indeed eclipse Christ, or what measure of deeper
reverence for the Son of God was still felt through all the grosser
forms of Madonna worship. Let that worship be taken at its worst; let
the goddess of this dome of Murano be looked upon as just in the same
sense an idol as the Athene of the Acropolis, or the Syrian Queen of
Heaven; and then, on this darkest assumption, balance well the
difference between those who worship and those who worship not;--that
difference which there is in the sight of God, in all ages, between the
calculating, smiling, self-sustained, self-governed man, and the
believing, weeping, wondering, struggling, Heaven-governed man;--between
the men who say in their hearts "there is no God," and those who
acknowledge a God at every step, "if haply they might feel after Him and
find Him." For that is indeed the difference which we shall find, in the
end, between the builders of this day and the builders on that sand
island long ago. They _did_ honor something out of themselves; they did
believe in spiritual presence judging, animating, redeeming them; they
built to its honor and for its habitation; and were content to pass away
in nameless multitudes, so only that the labor of their hands might fix
in the sea-wilderness a throne for their guardian angel. In this was
their strength, and there was indeed a Spirit walking with them on the
waters, though they could not discern the form thereof, though the
Masters voice came not to them, "It is I." What their error cost them,
we shall see hereafter; for it remained when the majesty and the
sincerity of their worship had departed, and remains to this day.
Mariolatry is no special characteristic of the twelfth century; on the
outside of that very tribune of San Donato, in its central recess, is an
image of the Virgin which receives the reverence once paid to the blue
vision upon the inner dome. With rouged cheeks and painted brows, the
frightful doll stands in wretchedness of rags, blackened with the smoke
of the votive lamps at its feet; and if we would know what has been lost
or gained by Italy in the six hundred years that have worn the marbles
of Murano, let us consider how far the priests who set up this to
worship, the populace who have this to adore, may be nobler than the men
who conceived that lonely figure standing on the golden field, or than
those to whom it seemed to receive their prayer at evening, far away,
where they only saw the blue clouds rising out of the burning sea.


  [10] "Mela, e buon vino, con pace e carità," Memorie Storiche de'
    Veneti Primi e Secondi, di Jacopo Filiasi (Padua, 1811), tom. iii.
    cap. 23. Perhaps, in the choice of the abbot's cheer, there was some
    occult reference to the verse of Solomon's Song: "Stay me with
    flagons, comfort me with apples."

  [11] Notizie Storiche delle Chiese di Venezia, illustrate da Flaminio
    Corner (Padua, 1758), p. 615.

  [12] "On the 14th day of April, 1374, there were found, in this
    church of the first martyr St. Stefano, two hundred and more bodies
    of holy martyrs, by the venerable priest, Matthew Fradello,
    incumbent of the church."

  [13] Notizie Storiche, p. 620.

  [14] The intention is farther confirmed by the singular variation in
    the breadth of the small fillet which encompasses the inner marble.
    It is much narrower at the bottom than at the sides, so as to
    recover the original breadth in the lower border.

  [15] Its elevation is given to scale in fig. 4, Plate XIII., below.

  [16] "Luogo de' ninfe e de' semidei."--_M. Andrea Calmo_, quoted by
    Mutinelli, Annali Urbani di Venezia (Venice, 1841), p. 362.

  [17] "The women, even as far back as 1100, wore dresses of blue,
    with mantles on the shoulder, which clothed them before and

    It would be difficult to imagine a dress more modest and beautiful.
    See Appendix 7.

  [18]   "Whom Eve destroyed, the pious Virgin Mary redeemed;
          All praise her, who rejoice in the Grace of Christ."

    Vide Appendix 8.



§ I. "And so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus." If as the
shores of Asia lessened upon his sight, the spirit of prophecy had
entered into the heart of the weak disciple who had turned back when his
hand was on the plough, and who had been judged, by the chiefest of
Christ's captains, unworthy thenceforward to go forth with him to the
work,[19] how wonderful would he have thought it, that by the lion
symbol in future ages he was to be represented among men! how woful,
that the war-cry of his name should so often reanimate the rage of the
soldier, on those very plains where he himself had failed in the courage
of the Christian, and so often dye with fruitless blood that very
Cypriot Sea, over whose waves, in repentance and shame, he was following
the Son of Consolation!

§ II. That the Venetians possessed themselves of his body in the ninth
century, there appears no sufficient reason to doubt, nor that it was
principally in consequence of their having done so, that they chose him
for their patron saint. There exists, however, a tradition that before
he went into Egypt he had founded the Church at Aquileia, and was thus,
in some sort, the first bishop of the Venetian isles and people. I
believe that this tradition stands on nearly as good grounds as that of
St. Peter having been the first bishop of Rome;[20] but, as usual, it is
enriched by various later additions and embellishments, much resembling
the stories told respecting the church of Murano. Thus we find it
recorded by the Santo Padre who compiled the "Vite de' Santi spettanti
alle Chiese di Venezia,"[21] that "St. Mark having seen the people of
Aquileia well grounded in religion, and being called to Rome by St.
Peter, before setting off took with him the holy bishop Hermagoras, and
went in a small boat to the marshes of Venice. There were at that period
some houses built upon a certain high bank called Rialto, and the boat
being driven by the wind was anchored in a marshy place, when St. Mark,
snatched into ecstasy, heard the voice of an angel saying to him: 'Peace
be to thee, Mark; here shall thy body rest.'" The angel goes on to
foretell the building of "una stupenda, ne più veduta Città;" but the
fable is hardly ingenious enough to deserve farther relation.

§ III. But whether St. Mark was first bishop of Aquileia or not, St.
Theodore was the first patron of the city; nor can he yet be considered
as having entirely abdicated his early right, as his statue, standing on
a crocodile, still companions the winged lion on the opposing pillar of
the piazzetta. A church erected to this Saint is said to have occupied,
before the ninth century, the site of St. Mark's; and the traveller,
dazzled by the brilliancy of the great square, ought not to leave it
without endeavoring to imagine its aspect in that early time, when it
was a green field cloister-like and quiet,[22] divided by a small canal,
with a line of trees on each side; and extending between the two
churches of St. Theodore and St. Geminian, as the little piazza of
Torcello lies between its "palazzo" and cathedral.

§ IV. But in the year 813, when the seat of government was finally
removed to the Rialto, a Ducal Palace, built on the spot where the
present one stands, with a Ducal Chapel beside it,[23] gave a very
different character to the Square of St. Mark; and fifteen years later,
the acquisition of the body of the Saint, and its deposition in the
Ducal Chapel, perhaps not yet completed, occasioned the investiture of
that chapel with all possible splendor. St. Theodore was deposed from
his patronship, and his church destroyed, to make room for the
aggrandizement of the one attached to the Ducal Palace, and
thenceforward known as "St. Mark's."[24]

§ V. This first church was however destroyed by fire, when the Ducal
Palace was burned in the revolt against Candiano, in 976. It was partly
rebuilt by his successor, Pietro Orseolo, on a larger scale; and, with
the assistance of Byzantine architects, the fabric was carried on under
successive Doges for nearly a hundred years; the main building being
completed in 1071, but its incrustation with marble not till
considerably later. It was consecrated on the 8th of October, 1085,[25]
according to Sansovino and the author of the "Chiesa Ducale di S.
Marco," in 1094 according to Lazari, but certainly between 1084 and
1096, those years being the limits of the reign of Vital Falier; I
incline to the supposition that it was soon after his accession to the
throne in 1085, though Sansovino writes, by mistake, Ordelafo instead of
Vital Falier. But, at all events, before the close of the eleventh
century the great consecration of the church took place. It was again
injured by fire in 1106, but repaired; and from that time to the fall of
Venice there was probably no Doge who did not in some slight degree
embellish or alter the fabric, so that few parts of it can be
pronounced boldly to be of any given date. Two periods of interference
are, however, notable above the rest: the first, that in which the
Gothic school, had superseded the Byzantine towards the close of the
fourteenth century, when the pinnacles, upper archivolts, and window
traceries were added to the exterior, and the great screen, with various
chapels and tabernacle-work, to the interior; the second, when the
Renaissance school superseded the Gothic, and the pupils of Titian and
Tintoret substituted, over one half of the church, their own
compositions for the Greek mosaics with which it was originally
decorated;[26] happily, though with no good will, having left enough to
enable us to imagine and lament what they destroyed. Of this irreparable
loss we shall have more to say hereafter; meantime, I wish only to fix
in the reader's mind the succession of periods of alteration as firmly
and simply as possible.

§ VI. We have seen that the main body of the church may be broadly
stated to be of the eleventh century, the Gothic additions of the
fourteenth, and the restored mosaics of the seventeenth. There is no
difficulty in distinguishing at a glance the Gothic portions from the
Byzantine; but there is considerable difficulty in ascertaining how
long, during the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries,
additions were made to the Byzantine church, which cannot be easily
distinguished from the work of the eleventh century, being purposely
executed in the same manner. Two of the most important pieces of
evidence on this point are, a mosaic in the south transept, and another
over the northern door of the façade; the first representing the
interior, the second the exterior, of the ancient church.

§ VII. It has just been stated that the existing building was
consecrated by the Doge Vital Falier. A peculiar solemnity was given to
that act of consecration, in the minds of the Venetian people, by what
appears to have been one of the best arranged and most successful
impostures ever attempted by the clergy of the Romish church. The body
of St. Mark had, without doubt, perished in the conflagration of 976;
but the revenues of the church depended too much upon the devotion
excited by these relics to permit the confession of their loss. The
following is the account given by Corner, and believed to this day by
the Venetians, of the pretended miracle by which it was concealed.

"After the repairs undertaken by the Doge Orseolo, the place in which
the body of the holy Evangelist rested had been altogether forgotten; so
that the Doge Vital Falier was entirely ignorant of the place of the
venerable deposit. This was no light affliction, not only to the pious
Doge, but to all the citizens and people; so that at last, moved by
confidence in the Divine mercy, they determined to implore, with prayer
and fasting, the manifestation of so great a treasure, which did not now
depend upon any human effort. A general fast being therefore proclaimed,
and a solemn procession appointed for the 25th day of June, while the
people assembled in the church interceded with God in fervent prayers
for the desired boon, they beheld, with as much amazement as joy, a
slight shaking in the marbles of a pillar (near the place where the
altar of the Cross is now), which, presently falling to the earth,
exposed to the view of the rejoicing people the chest of bronze in which
the body of the Evangelist was laid."

§ VIII. Of the main facts of this tale there is no doubt. They were
embellished afterwards, as usual, by many fanciful traditions; as, for
instance, that, when the sarcophagus was discovered, St. Mark extended
his hand out of it, with a gold ring on one of the fingers, which he
permitted a noble of the Dolfin family to remove; and a quaint and
delightful story was further invented of this ring, which I shall not
repeat here, as it is now as well known as any tale of the Arabian
Nights. But the fast and the discovery of the coffin, by whatever means
effected, are facts; and they are recorded in one of the best-preserved
mosaics of the north transept, executed very certainly not long after
the event had taken place, closely resembling in its treatment that of
the Bayeux tapestry, and showing, in a conventional manner, the
interior of the church, as it then was, filled by the people, first in
prayer, then in thanksgiving, the pillar standing open before them, and
the Doge, in the midst of them, distinguished by his crimson bonnet
embroidered with gold, but more unmistakably by the inscription "Dux"
over his head, as uniformly is the case in the Bayeux tapestry, and most
other pictorial works of the period. The church is, of course, rudely
represented, and the two upper stories of it reduced to a small scale in
order to form a background to the figures; one of those bold pieces of
picture history which we in our pride of perspective, and a thousand
things besides, never dare attempt. We should have put in a column or
two of the real or perspective size, and subdued it into a vague
background: the old workman crushed the church together that he might
get it all in, up to the cupolas; and has, therefore, left us some
useful notes of its ancient form, though any one who is familiar with
the method of drawing employed at the period will not push the evidence
too far. The two pulpits are there, however, as they are at this day,
and the fringe of mosaic flower-work which then encompassed the whole
church, but which modern restorers have destroyed, all but one fragment
still left in the south aisle. There is no attempt to represent the
other mosaics on the roof, the scale being too small to admit of their
being represented with any success; but some at least of those mosaics
had been executed at that period, and their absence in the
representation of the entire church is especially to be observed, in
order to show that we must not trust to any negative evidence in such
works. M. Lazari has rashly concluded that the central archivolt of St.
Mark's _must_ be posterior to the year 1205, because it does not appear
in the representation of the exterior of the church over the northern
door;[27] but he justly observes that this mosaic (which is the other
piece of evidence we possess respecting the ancient form of the
building) cannot itself be earlier than 1205, since it represents the
bronze horses which were brought from Constantinople in that year. And
this one fact renders it very difficult to speak with confidence
respecting the date of any part of the exterior of St. Mark's; for we
have above seen that it was consecrated in the eleventh century, and yet
here is one of its most important exterior decorations assuredly
retouched, if not entirely added, in the thirteenth, although its style
would have led us to suppose it had been an original part of the fabric.
However, for all our purposes, it will be enough for the reader to
remember that the earliest parts of the building belong to the eleventh,
twelfth, and first part of the thirteenth century; the Gothic portions
to the fourteenth; some of the altars and embellishments to the
fifteenth and sixteenth; and the modern portion of the mosaics to the

§ IX. This, however, I only wish him to recollect in order that I may
speak generally of the Byzantine architecture of St. Mark's, without
leading him to suppose the whole church to have been built and decorated
by Greek artists. Its later portions, with the single exception of the
seventeenth century mosaics, have been so dexterously accommodated to
the original fabric that the general effect is still that of a Byzantine
building; and I shall not, except when it is absolutely necessary,
direct attention to the discordant points, or weary the reader with
anatomical criticism. Whatever in St. Mark's arrests the eye, or affects
the feelings, is either Byzantine, or has been modified by Byzantine
influence; and our inquiry into its architectural merits need not
therefore be disturbed by the anxieties of antiquarianism, or arrested
by the obscurities of chronology.

§ X. And now I wish that the reader, before I bring him into St. Mark's
Place, would imagine himself for a little time in a quiet English
cathedral town, and walk with me to the west front of its cathedral. Let
us go together up the more retired street, at the end of which we can
see the pinnacles of one of the towers, and then through the low grey
gateway, with its battlemented top and small latticed window in the
centre, into the inner private-looking road or close, where nothing
goes in but the carts of the tradesmen who supply the bishop and the
chapter, and where there are little shaven grass-plots, fenced in by
neat rails, before old-fashioned groups of somewhat diminutive and
excessively trim houses, with little oriel and bay windows jutting out
here and there, and deep wooden cornices and eaves painted cream color
and white, and small porches to their doors in the shape of
cockle-shells, or little, crooked, thick, indescribable wooden gables
warped a little on one side; and so forward till we come to larger
houses, also old-fashioned, but of red brick, and with gardens behind
them, and fruit walls, which show here and there, among the nectarines,
the vestiges of an old cloister arch or shaft, and looking in front on
the cathedral square itself, laid out in rigid divisions of smooth grass
and gravel walk, yet not uncheerful, especially on the sunny side where
the canons' children are walking with their nurserymaids. And so, taking
care not to tread on the grass, we will go along the straight walk to
the west front, and there stand for a time, looking up at its
deep-pointed porches and the dark places between their pillars where
there were statues once, and where the fragments, here and there, of a
stately figure are still left, which has in it the likeness of a king,
perhaps indeed a king on earth, perhaps a saintly king long ago in
heaven; and so higher and higher up to the great mouldering wall of
rugged sculpture and confused arcades, shattered, and grey, and grisly
with heads of dragons and mocking fiends, worn by the rain and swirling
winds into yet unseemlier shape, and colored on their stony scales by
the deep russet-orange lichen, melancholy gold; and so, higher still, to
the bleak towers, so far above that the eye loses itself among the
bosses of their traceries, though they are rude and strong, and only
sees like a drift of eddying black points, now closing, now scattering,
and now settling suddenly into invisible places among the bosses and
flowers, the crowed of restless birds that fill the whole square with
that strange clangor of theirs, so harsh and yet so soothing, like the
cries of birds on a solitary coast between the cliffs and sea.

§ XI. Think for a little while of that scene, and the meaning of all its
small formalisms, mixed with its serene sublimity. Estimate its
secluded, continuous, drowsy felicities, and its evidence of the sense
and steady performance of such kind of duties as can be regulated by the
cathedral clock; and weigh the influence of those dark towers on all who
have passed through the lonely square at their feet for centuries, and
on all who have seen them rising far away over the wooded plain, or
catching on their square masses the last rays of the sunset, when the
city at their feet was indicated only by the mist at the bend of the
river. And then let us quickly recollect that we are in Venice, and land
at the extremity of the Calle Lunga San Moisè, which may be considered
as there answering to the secluded street that led us to our English
cathedral gateway.

§ XII. We find ourselves in a paved alley, some seven feet wide where it
is widest, full of people, and resonant with cries of itinerant
salesmen,--a shriek in their beginning, and dying away into a kind of
brazen ringing, all the worse for its confinement between the high
houses of the passage along which we have to make our way. Over-head an
inextricable confusion of rugged shutters, and iron balconies and
chimney flues pushed out on brackets to save room, and arched windows
with projecting sills of Istrian stone, and gleams of green leaves here
and there where a fig-tree branch escapes over a lower wall from some
inner cortile, leading the eye up to the narrow stream of blue sky high
over all. On each side, a row of shops, as densely set as may be,
occupying, in fact, intervals between the square stone shafts, about
eight feet high, which carry the first floors: intervals of which one is
narrow and serves as a door; the other is, in the more respectable
shops, wainscoted to the height of the counter and glazed above, but in
those of the poorer tradesmen left open to the ground, and the wares
laid on benches and tables in the open air, the light in all cases
entering at the front only, and fading away in a few feet from the
threshold into a gloom which the eye from without cannot penetrate, but
which is generally broken by a ray or two from a feeble lamp at the
back of the shop, suspended before a print of the Virgin. The less pious
shop-keeper sometimes leaves his lamp unlighted, and is contented with a
penny print; the more religious one has his print colored and set in a
little shrine with a gilded or figured fringe, with perhaps a faded
flower or two on each side, and his lamp burning brilliantly. Here at
the fruiterer's, where the dark-green water-melons are heaped upon the
counter like cannon balls, the Madonna has a tabernacle of fresh laurel
leaves; but the pewterer next door has let his lamp out, and there is
nothing to be seen in his shop but the dull gleam of the studded
patterns on the copper pans, hanging from his roof in the darkness. Next
comes a "Vendita Frittole e Liquori," where the Virgin, enthroned in a
very humble manner beside a tallow candle on a back shelf, presides over
certain ambrosial morsels of a nature too ambiguous to be defined or
enumerated. But a few steps farther on, at the regular wine-shop of the
calle, where we are offered "Vino Nostrani a Soldi 28·32," the Madonna
is in great glory, enthroned above ten or a dozen large red casks of
three-year-old vintage, and flanked by goodly ranks of bottles of
Maraschino, and two crimson lamps; and for the evening, when the
gondoliers will come to drink out, under her auspices, the money they
have gained during the day, she will have a whole chandelier.

§ XIII. A yard or two farther, we pass the hostelry of the Black Eagle,
and, glancing as we pass through the square door of marble, deeply
moulded, in the outer wall, we see the shadows of its pergola of vines
resting on an ancient well, with a pointed shield carved on its side;
and so presently emerge on the bridge and Campo San Moisè, whence to the
entrance into St. Mark's Place, called the Bocca di Piazza (mouth of the
square), the Venetian character is nearly destroyed, first by the
frightful façade of San Moisè, which we will pause at another time to
examine, and then by the modernizing of the shops as they near the
piazza, and the mingling with the lower Venetian populace of lounging
groups of English and Austrians. We will push fast through them into the
shadow of the pillars at the end of the "Bocca di Piazza," and then we
forget them all; for between those pillars there opens a great light,
and, in the midst of it, as we advance slowly, the vast tower of St.
Mark seems to lift itself visibly forth from the level field of
chequered stones; and, on each side, the countless arches prolong
themselves into ranged symmetry, as if the rugged and irregular houses
that pressed together above us in the dark alley had been struck back
into sudden obedience and lovely order, and all their rude casements and
broken walls had been transformed into arches charged with goodly
sculpture, and fluted shafts of delicate stone.

§ XIV. And well may they fall back, for beyond those troops of ordered
arches there rises a vision out of the earth, and all the great square
seems to have opened from it in a kind of awe, that we may see it far
away;--a multitude of pillars and white domes, clustered into a long low
pyramid of colored light; a treasure-heap, it seems, partly of gold, and
partly of opal and mother-of-pearl, hollowed beneath into five great
vaulted porches, ceiled with fair mosaic, and beset with sculpture of
alabaster, clear as amber and delicate as ivory,--sculpture fantastic
and involved, of palm leaves and lilies, and grapes and pomegranates,
and birds clinging and fluttering among the branches, all twined
together into an endless network of buds and plumes; and, in the midst
of it, the solemn forms of angels, sceptred, and robed to the feet, and
leaning to each other across the gates, their figures indistinct among
the gleaming of the golden ground through the leaves beside them,
interrupted and dim, like the morning light as it faded back among the
branches of Eden, when first its gates were angel-guarded long ago. And
round the walls of the porches there are set pillars of variegated
stones, jasper and porphyry, and deep-green serpentine spotted with
flakes of snow, and marbles, that half refuse and half yield to the
sunshine, Cleopatra-like, "their bluest veins to kiss"--the shadow, as
it steals back from them, revealing line after line of azure undulation,
as a receding tide leaves the waved sand; their capitals rich with
interwoven tracery, rooted knots of herbage, and drifting leaves of
acanthus and vine, and mystical signs, all beginning and ending in the
Cross; and above them, in the broad archivolts, a continuous chain of
language and of life--angels, and the signs of heaven, and the labors of
men, each in its appointed season upon the earth; and above these,
another range of glittering pinnacles, mixed with white arches edged
with scarlet flowers,--a confusion of delight, amidst which the breasts
of the Greek horses are seen blazing in their breadth of golden
strength, and the St. Mark's Lion, lifted on a blue field covered with
stars, until at last, as if in ecstasy, the crests of the arches break
into a marble foam, and toss themselves far into the blue sky in flashes
and wreaths of sculptured spray, as if the breakers on the Lido shore
had been frost-bound before they fell, and the sea-nymphs had inlaid
them with coral and amethyst.

Between that grim cathedral of England and this, what an interval! There
is a type of it in the very birds that haunt them; for, instead of the
restless crowd, hoarse-voiced and sable-winged, drifting on the bleak
upper air, the St. Mark's porches are full of doves, that nestle among
the marble foliage, and mingle the soft iridescence of their living
plumes, changing at every motion, with the tints, hardly less lovely,
that have stood unchanged for seven hundred years.

§ XV. And what effect has this splendor on those who pass beneath it?
You may walk from sunrise to sunset, to and fro, before the gateway of
St. Mark's, and you will not see an eye lifted to it, nor a countenance
brightened by it. Priest and layman, soldier and civilian, rich and
poor, pass by it alike regardlessly. Up to the very recesses of the
porches, the meanest tradesmen of the city push their counters; nay, the
foundations of its pillars are themselves the seats--not "of them that
sell doves" for sacrifice, but of the vendors of toys and caricatures.
Round the whole square in front of the church there is almost a
continuous line of cafés, where the idle Venetians of the middle classes
lounge, and read empty journals; in its centre the Austrian bands play
during the time of vespers, their martial music jarring with the organ
notes,--the march drowning the miserere, and the sullen crowd
thickening round them,--a crowd, which, if it had its will, would
stiletto every soldier that pipes to it. And in the recesses of the
porches, all day long, knots of men of the lowest classes, unemployed
and listless, lie basking in the sun like lizards; and unregarded
children,--every heavy glance of their young eyes full of desperation
and stony depravity, and their throats hoarse with cursing,--gamble,
and fight, and snarl, and sleep, hour after hour, clashing their bruised
centesimi upon the marble ledges of the church porch. And the images of
Christ and His angels look down upon it continually.

That we may not enter the church out of the midst of the horror of this,
let us turn aside under the portico which looks towards the sea, and
passing round within the two massive pillars brought from St. Jean
d'Acre, we shall find the gate of the Baptistery; let us enter there.
The heavy door closes behind us instantly, and the light, and the
turbulence of the Piazzetta, are together shut out by it.

§ XVI. We are in a low vaulted room; vaulted, not with arches, but with
small cupolas starred with gold, and chequered with gloomy figures: in
the centre is a bronze font charged with rich bas-reliefs, a small
figure of the Baptist standing above it in a single ray of light that
glances across the narrow room, dying as it falls from a window high in
the wall, and the first thing that it strikes, and the only thing that
it strikes brightly, is a tomb. We hardly know if it be a tomb indeed;
for it is like a narrow couch set beside the window, low-roofed and
curtained, so that it might seem, but that it has some height above the
pavement, to have been drawn towards the window, that the sleeper might
be wakened early;--only there are two angels who have drawn the curtain
back, and are looking down upon him. Let us look also, and thank that
gentle light that rests upon his forehead for ever, and dies away upon
his breast.

The face is of a man in middle life, but there are two deep furrows
right across the forehead, dividing it like the foundations of a tower:
the height of it above is bound by the fillet of the ducal cap. The
rest of the features are singularly small and delicate, the lips sharp,
perhaps the sharpness of death being added to that of the natural lines;
but there is a sweet smile upon them, and a deep serenity upon the whole
countenance. The roof of the canopy above has been blue, filled with
stars; beneath, in the centre of the tomb on which the figure rests, is
a seated figure of the Virgin, and the border of it all around is of
flowers and soft leaves, growing rich and deep, as if in a field in

It is the Doge Andrea Dandolo, a man early great among the great of
Venice; and early lost. She chose him for her king in his 36th year; he
died ten years later, leaving behind him that history to which we owe
half of what we know of her former fortunes.

§ XVII. Look round at the room in which he lies. The floor of it is of
rich mosaic, encompassed by a low seat of red marble, and its walls are
of alabaster, but worn and shattered, and darkly stained with age,
almost a ruin,--in places the slabs of marble have fallen away
altogether, and the rugged brickwork is seen through the rents, but all
beautiful; the ravaging fissures fretting their way among the islands
and channelled zones of the alabaster, and the time-stains on its
translucent masses darkened into fields of rich golden brown, like the
color of seaweed when the sun strikes on it through deep sea. The light
fades away into the recess of the chamber towards the altar, and the eye
can hardly trace the lines of the bas-relief behind it of the baptism of
Christ: but on the vaulting of the roof the figures are distinct, and
there are seen upon it two great circles, one surrounded by the
"Principalities and powers in heavenly places," of which Milton has
expressed the ancient division in the single massy line,

  "Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,"

and around the other, the Apostles; Christ the centre of both; and upon
the walls, again and again repeated, the gaunt figure of the Baptist, in
every circumstance of his life and death; and the streams of the Jordan
running down between their cloven rocks; the axe laid to the root of a
fruitless tree that springs upon their shore. "Every tree that bringeth
not forth good fruit shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire." Yes,
verily: to be baptized with fire, or to be cast therein; it is the
choice set before all men. The march-notes still murmur through the
grated window, and mingle with the sounding in our ears of the sentence
of judgment, which the old Greek has written on that Baptistery wall.
Venice has made her choice.

§ XVIII. He who lies under that stony canopy would have taught her
another choice, in his day, if she would have listened to him; but he
and his counsels have long been forgotten by her, and the dust lies upon
his lips.

Through the heavy door whose bronze network closes the place of his
rest, let us enter the church itself. It is lost in still deeper
twilight, to which the eye must be accustomed for some moments before
the form of the building can be traced; and then there opens before us a
vast cave, hewn out into the form of a Cross, and divided into shadowy
aisles by many pillars. Round the domes of its roof the light enters
only through narrow apertures like large stars; and here and there a ray
or two from some far away casement wanders into the darkness, and casts
a narrow phosphoric stream upon the waves of marble that heave and fall
in a thousand colors along the floor. What else there is of light is
from torches, or silver lamps, burning ceaselessly in the recesses of
the chapels; the roof sheeted with gold, and the polished walls covered
with alabaster, give back at every curve and angle some feeble gleaming
to the flames; and the glories round the heads of the sculptured saints
flash out upon us as we pass them, and sink again into the gloom. Under
foot and over head, a continual succession of crowded imagery, one
picture passing into another, as in a dream; forms beautiful and
terrible mixed together; dragons and serpents, and ravening beasts of
prey, and graceful birds that in the midst of them drink from running
fountains and feed from vases of crystal; the passions and the pleasures
of human life symbolized together, and the mystery of its redemption;
for the mazes of interwoven lines and changeful pictures lead always at
last to the Cross, lifted and carved in every place and upon every
stone; sometimes with the serpent of eternity wrapt round it, sometimes
with doves beneath its arms, and sweet herbage growing forth from its
feet; but conspicuous most of all on the great rood that crosses the
church before the altar, raised in bright blazonry against the shadow of
the apse. And although in the recesses of the aisles and chapels, when
the mist of the incense hangs heavily, we may see continually a figure
traced in faint lines upon their marble, a woman standing with her eyes
raised to heaven, and the inscription above her, "Mother of God," she is
not here the presiding deity. It is the Cross that is first seen, and
always, burning in the centre of the temple; and every dome and hollow
of its roof has the figure of Christ in the utmost height of it, raised
in power, or returning in judgment.

§ XIX. Nor is this interior without effect on the minds of the people.
At every hour of the day there are groups collected before the various
shrines, and solitary worshippers scattered through the darker places of
the church, evidently in prayer both deep and reverent, and, for the
most part, profoundly sorrowful. The devotees at the greater number of
the renowned shrines of Romanism may be seen murmuring their appointed
prayers with wandering eyes and unengaged gestures; but the step of the
stranger does not disturb those who kneel on the pavement of St. Mark's;
and hardly a moment passes, from early morning to sunset, in which we
may not see some half-veiled figure enter beneath the Arabian porch,
cast itself into long abasement on the floor of the temple, and then
rising slowly with more confirmed step, and with a passionate kiss and
clasp of the arms given to the feet of the crucifix, by which the lamps
burn always in the northern aisle, leave the church, as if comforted.

§ XX. But we must not hastily conclude from this that the nobler
characters of the building have at present any influence in fostering a
devotional spirit. There is distress enough in Venice to bring many to
their knees, without excitement from external imagery; and whatever
there may be in the temper of the worship offered in St. Mark's more
than can be accounted for by reference to the unhappy circumstances of
the city, is assuredly not owing either to the beauty of its
architecture or to the impressiveness of the Scripture histories
embodied in its mosaics. That it has a peculiar effect, however slight,
on the popular mind, may perhaps be safely conjectured from the number
of worshippers which it attracts, while the churches of St. Paul and the
Frari, larger in size and more central in position, are left
comparatively empty.[28] But this effect is altogether to be ascribed to
its richer assemblage of those sources of influence which address
themselves to the commonest instincts of the human mind, and which, in
all ages and countries, have been more or less employed in the support
of superstition. Darkness and mystery; confused recesses of building;
artificial light employed in small quantity, but maintained with a
constancy which seems to give it a kind of sacredness; preciousness of
material easily comprehended by the vulgar eye; close air loaded with a
sweet and peculiar odor associated only with religious services, solemn
music, and tangible idols or images having popular legends attached to
them,--these, the stage properties of superstition, which have been from
the beginning of the world, and must be to the end of it, employed by
all nations, whether openly savage or nominally civilized, to produce a
false awe in minds incapable of apprehending the true nature of the
Deity, are assembled in St. Mark's to a degree, as far as I know,
unexampled in any other European church. The arts of the Magus and the
Brahmin are exhausted in the animation of a paralyzed Christianity; and
the popular sentiment which these arts excite is to be regarded by us
with no more respect than we should have considered ourselves justified
in rendering to the devotion of the worshippers at Eleusis, Ellora, or

§ XXI. Indeed, these inferior means of exciting religious emotion were
employed in the ancient Church as they are at this day, but not employed
alone. Torchlight there was, as there is now; but the torchlight
illumined Scripture histories on the walls, which every eye traced and
every heart comprehended, but which, during my whole residence in
Venice, I never saw one Venetian regard for an instant. I never heard
from any one the most languid expression of interest in any feature of
the church, or perceived the slightest evidence of their understanding
the meaning of its architecture; and while, therefore, the English
cathedral, though no longer dedicated to the kind of services for which
it was intended by its builders, and much at variance in many of its
characters with the temper of the people by whom it is now surrounded,
retains yet so much of its religious influence that no prominent feature
of its architecture can be said to exist altogether in vain, we have in
St. Mark's a building apparently still employed in the ceremonies for
which it was designed, and yet of which the impressive attributes have
altogether ceased to be comprehended by its votaries. The beauty which
it possesses is unfelt, the language it uses is forgotten; and in the
midst of the city to whose service it has so long been consecrated, and
still filled by crowds of the descendants of those to whom it owes its
magnificence, it stands, in reality, more desolate than the ruins
through which the sheep-walk passes unbroken in our English valleys; and
the writing on its marble walls is less regarded and less powerful for
the teaching of men, than the letters which the shepherd follows with
his finger, where the moss is lightest on the tombs in the desecrated

§ XXII. It must therefore be altogether without reference to its present
usefulness, that we pursue our inquiry into the merits and meaning of
the architecture of this marvellous building; and it can only be after
we have terminated that inquiry, conducting it carefully on abstract
grounds, that we can pronounce with any certainty how far the present
neglect of St. Mark's is significative of the decline of the Venetian
character, or how far this church is to be considered as the relic of a
barbarous age, incapable of attracting the admiration, or influencing
the feelings of a civilized community.

The inquiry before us is twofold. Throughout the first volume, I
carefully kept the study of _expression_ distinct from that of abstract
architectural perfection; telling the reader that in every building we
should afterwards examine, he would have first to form a judgment of its
construction and decorative merit, considering it merely as a work of
art; and then to examine farther, in what degree it fulfilled its
expressional purposes. Accordingly, we have first to judge of St. Mark's
merely as a piece of architecture, not as a church; secondly, to
estimate its fitness for its special duty as a place of worship, and the
relation in which it stands, as such, to those northern cathedrals that
still retain so much of the power over the human heart, which the
Byzantine domes appear to have lost for ever.

§ XXIII. In the two succeeding sections of this work, devoted
respectively to the examination of the Gothic and Renaissance buildings
in Venice, I have endeavored to analyze and state, as briefly as
possible, the true nature of each school,--first in Spirit, then in
Form. I wished to have given a similar analysis, in this section, of the
nature of Byzantine architecture; but could not make my statements
general, because I have never seen this kind of building on its native
soil. Nevertheless, in the following sketch of the principles
exemplified in St. Mark's, I believe that most of the leading features
and motives of the style will be found clearly enough distinguished to
enable the reader to judge of it with tolerable fairness, as compared
with the better known systems of European architecture in the middle

§ XXIV. Now the first broad characteristic of the building, and the root
nearly of every other important peculiarity in it, is its confessed
_incrustation_. It is the purest example in Italy of the great school of
architecture in which the ruling principle is the incrustation of brick
with more precious materials; and it is necessary before we proceed to
criticise any one of its arrangements, that the reader should carefully
consider the principles which are likely to have influenced, or might
legitimately influence, the architects of such a school, as
distinguished from those whose designs are to be executed in massive

It is true, that among different nations, and at different times, we may
find examples of every sort and degree of incrustation, from the mere
setting of the larger and more compact stones by preference at the
outside of the wall, to the miserable construction of that modern brick
cornice, with its coating of cement, which, but the other day, in
London, killed its unhappy workmen in its fall.[30] But just as it is
perfectly possible to have a clear idea of the opposing characteristics
of two different species of plants or animals, though between the two
there are varieties which it is difficult to assign either to the one or
the other, so the reader may fix decisively in his mind the legitimate
characteristics of the incrusted and the massive styles, though between
the two there are varieties which confessedly unite the attributes of
both. For instance, in many Roman remains, built of blocks of tufa and
incrusted with marble, we have a style, which, though truly solid,
possesses some of the attributes of incrustation; and in the Cathedral
of Florence, built of brick and coated with marble, the marble facing is
so firmly and exquisitely set, that the building, though in reality
incrusted, assumes the attributes of solidity. But these intermediate
examples need not in the least confuse our generally distinct ideas of
the two families of buildings: the one in which the substance is alike
throughout, and the forms and conditions of the ornament assume or prove
that it is so, as in the best Greek buildings, and for the most part in
our early Norman and Gothic; and the other, in which the substance is of
two kinds, one internal, the other external, and the system of
decoration is founded on this duplicity, as pre-eminently in St. Mark's.

§ XXV. I have used the word duplicity in no depreciatory sense. In
chapter ii. of the "Seven Lamps," § 18, I especially guarded this
incrusted school from the imputation of insincerity, and I must do so
now at greater length. It appears insincere at first to a Northern
builder, because, accustomed to build with solid blocks of freestone, he
is in the habit of supposing the external superficies of a piece of
masonry to be some criterion of its thickness. But, as soon as he gets
acquainted with the incrusted style, he will find that the Southern
builders had no intention to deceive him. He will see that every slab of
facial marble is fastened to the next by a confessed _rivet_, and that
the joints of the armor are so visibly and openly accommodated to the
contours of the substance within, that he has no more right to complain
of treachery than a savage would have, who, for the first time in his
life seeing a man in armor, had supposed him to be made of solid steel.
Acquaint him with the customs of chivalry, and with the uses of the coat
of mail, and he ceases to accuse of dishonesty either the panoply or the

These laws and customs of the St. Mark's architectural chivalry it must
be our business to develope.

§ XXVI. First, consider the natural circumstances which give rise to
such a style. Suppose a nation of builders, placed far from any quarries
of available stone, and having precarious access to the mainland where
they exist; compelled therefore either to build entirely with brick, or
to import whatever stone they use from great distances, in ships of
small tonnage, and for the most part dependent for speed on the oar
rather than the sail. The labor and cost of carriage are just as great,
whether they import common or precious stone, and therefore the natural
tendency would always be to make each shipload as valuable as possible.
But in proportion to the preciousness of the stone, is the limitation of
its possible supply; limitation not determined merely by cost, but by
the physical conditions of the material, for of many marbles, pieces
above a certain size are not to be had for money. There would also be a
tendency in such circumstances to import as much stone as possible ready
sculptured, in order to save weight; and therefore, if the traffic of
their merchants led them to places where there were ruins of ancient
edifices, to ship the available fragments of them home. Out of this
supply of marble, partly composed of pieces of so precious a quality
that only a few tons of them could be on any terms obtained, and partly
of shafts, capitals, and other portions of foreign buildings, the island
architect has to fashion, as best he may, the anatomy of his edifice. It
is at his choice either to lodge his few blocks of precious marble here
and there among his masses of brick, and to cut out of the sculptured
fragments such new forms as may be necessary for the observance of fixed
proportions in the new building; or else to cut the colored stones into
thin pieces, of extent sufficient to face the whole surface of the
walls, and to adopt a method of construction irregular enough to admit
the insertion of fragmentary sculptures; rather with a view of
displaying their intrinsic beauty, than of setting them to any regular
service in the support of the building.

An architect who cared only to display his own skill, and had no respect
for the works of others, would assuredly have chosen the former
alternative, and would have sawn the old marbles into fragments in order
to prevent all interference with his own designs. But an architect who
cared for the preservation of noble work, whether his own or others',
and more regarded the beauty of his building than his own fame, would
have done what those old builders of St. Mark's did for us, and saved
every relic with which he was entrusted.

§ XXVII. But these were not the only motives which influenced the
Venetians in the adoption of their method of architecture. It might,
under all the circumstances above stated, have been a question with
other builders, whether to import one shipload of costly jaspers, or
twenty of chalk flints; and whether to build a small church faced with
porphyry and paved with agate, or to raise a vast cathedral in
freestone. But with the Venetians it could not be a question for an
instant; they were exiles from ancient and beautiful cities, and had
been accustomed to build with their ruins, not less in affection than in
admiration: they had thus not only grown familiar with the practice of
inserting older fragments in modern buildings, but they owed to that
practice a great part of the splendor of their city, and whatever charm
of association might aid its change from a Refuge into a Home. The
practice which began in the affections of a fugitive nation, was
prolonged in the pride of a conquering one; and beside the memorials of
departed happiness, were elevated the trophies of returning victory. The
ship of war brought home more marble in triumph than the merchant vessel
in speculation; and the front of St. Mark's became rather a shrine at
which to dedicate the splendor of miscellaneous spoil, than the
organized expression of any fixed architectural law, or religious

§ XXVIII. Thus far, however, the justification of the style of this
church depends on circumstances peculiar to the time of its erection,
and to the spot where it arose. The merit of its method, considered in
the abstract, rests on far broader grounds.

In the fifth chapter of the "Seven Lamps," § 14, the reader will find
the opinion of a modern architect of some reputation, Mr. Wood, that the
chief thing remarkable in this church "is its extreme ugliness;" and he
will find this opinion associated with another, namely, that the works
of the Caracci are far preferable to those of the Venetian painters.
This second statement of feeling reveals to us one of the principal
causes of the first; namely, that Mr. Wood had not any perception of
color, or delight in it. The perception of color is a gift just as
definitely granted to one person, and denied to another, as an ear for
music; and the very first requisite for true judgment of St. Mark's, is
the perfection of that color-faculty which few people ever set
themselves seriously to find out whether they possess or not. For it is
on its value as a piece of perfect and unchangeable coloring, that the
claims of this edifice to our respect are finally rested; and a deaf man
might as well pretend to pronounce judgment on the merits of a full
orchestra, as an architect trained in the composition of form only, to
discern the beauty of St. Mark's. It possesses the charm of color in
common with the greater part of the architecture, as well as of the
manufactures, of the East; but the Venetians deserve especial note as
the only European people who appear to have sympathized to the full with
the great instinct of the Eastern races. They indeed were compelled to
bring artists from Constantinople to design the mosaics of the vaults of
St. Mark's, and to group the colors of its porches; but they rapidly
took up and developed, under more masculine conditions, the system of
which the Greeks had shown them the example: while the burghers and
barons of the North were building their dark streets and grisly castles
of oak and sandstone, the merchants of Venice were covering their
palaces with porphyry and gold; and at last, when her mighty painters
had created for her a color more priceless than gold or porphyry, even
this, the richest of her treasures, she lavished upon walls whose
foundations were beaten by the sea; and the strong tide, as it runs
beneath the Rialto, is reddened to this day by the reflection of the
frescoes of Giorgione.

§ XXIX. If, therefore, the reader does not care for color, I must
protest against his endeavor to form any judgment whatever of this
church of St. Mark's. But, if he both cares for and loves it, let him
remember that the school of incrusted architecture is _the only one in
which perfect and permanent chromatic decoration is possible_; and let
him look upon every piece of jasper and alabaster given to the architect
as a cake of very hard color, of which a certain portion is to be ground
down or cut off, to paint the walls with. Once understand this
thoroughly, and accept the condition that the body and availing strength
of the edifice are to be in brick, and that this under muscular power
of brickwork is to be clothed with the defence and the brightness of the
marble, as the body of an animal is protected and adorned by its scales
or its skin, and all the consequent fitnesses and laws of the structure
will be easily discernible: These I shall state in their natural order.

§ XXX. LAW I. _That the plinths and cornices used for binding the armor
are to be light and delicate._ A certain thickness, at least two or
three inches, must be required in the covering pieces (even when
composed of the strongest stone, and set on the least exposed parts), in
order to prevent the chance of fracture, and to allow for the wear of
time. And the weight of this armor must not be trusted to cement; the
pieces must not be merely glued to the rough brick surface, but
connected with the mass which they protect by binding cornices and
string courses; and with each other, so as to secure mutual support,
aided by the rivetings, but by no means dependent upon them. And, for
the full honesty and straight-forwardness of the work, it is necessary
that these string courses and binding plinths should not be of such
proportions as would fit them for taking any important part in the hard
work of the inner structure, or render them liable to be mistaken for
the great cornices and plinths already explained as essential parts of
the best solid building. They must be delicate, slight, and visibly
incapable of severer work than that assigned to them.

§ XXXI. LAW II. _Science of inner structure is to be abandoned._ As the
body of the structure is confessedly of inferior, and comparatively
incoherent materials, it would be absurd to attempt in it any expression
of the higher refinements of construction. It will be enough that by its
mass we are assured of its sufficiency and strength; and there is the
less reason for endeavoring to diminish the extent of its surface by
delicacy of adjustment, because on the breadth of that surface we are to
depend for the better display of the color, which is to be the chief
source of our pleasure in the building. The main body of the work,
therefore, will be composed of solid walls and massive piers; and
whatever expression of finer structural science we may require, will be
thrown either into subordinate portions of it, or entirely directed to
the support of the external mail, where in arches or vaults it might
otherwise appear dangerously independent of the material within.

§ XXXII. LAW III. _All shafts are to be solid._ Wherever, by the
smallness of the parts, we may be driven to abandon the incrusted
structure at all, it must be abandoned altogether. The eye must never be
left in the least doubt as to what is solid and what is coated. Whatever
appears _probably_ solid, must be _assuredly_ so, and therefore it
becomes an inviolable law that no shaft shall ever be incrusted. Not
only does the whole virtue of a shaft depend on its consolidation, but
the labor of cutting and adjusting an incrusted coat to it would be
greater than the saving of material is worth. Therefore the shaft, of
whatever size, is always to be solid; and because the incrusted
character of the rest of the building renders it more difficult for the
shafts to clear themselves from suspicion, they must not, in this
incrusted style, be in any place jointed. No shaft must ever be used but
of one block; and this the more, because the permission given to the
builder to have his walls and piers as ponderous as he likes, renders it
quite unnecessary for him to use shafts of any fixed size. In our Norman
and Gothic, where definite support is required at a definite point, it
becomes lawful to build up a tower of small stones in the shape of a
shaft. But the Byzantine is allowed to have as much support as he wants
from the walls in every direction, and he has no right to ask for
further license in the structure of his shafts. Let him, by generosity
in the substance of his pillars, repay us for the permission we have
given him to be superficial in his walls. The builder in the chalk
valleys of France and England may be blameless in kneading his clumsy
pier out of broken flint and calcined lime; but the Venetian, who has
access to the riches of Asia and the quarries of Egypt, must frame at
least his shafts out of flawless stone.

§ XXXIII. And this for another reason yet. Although, as we have said, it
is impossible to cover the walls of a large building with color, except
on the condition of dividing the stone into plates, there is always a
certain appearance of meanness and niggardliness in the procedure. It is
necessary that the builder should justify himself from this suspicion;
and prove that it is not in mere economy or poverty, but in the real
impossibility of doing otherwise, that he has sheeted his walls so
thinly with the precious film. Now the shaft is exactly the portion of
the edifice in which it is fittest to recover his honor in this respect.
For if blocks of jasper or porphyry be inserted in the walls, the
spectator cannot tell their thickness, and cannot judge of the
costliness of the sacrifice. But the shaft he can measure with his eye
in an instant, and estimate the quantity of treasure both in the mass of
its existing substance, and in that which has been hewn away to bring it
into its perfect and symmetrical form. And thus the shafts of all
buildings of this kind are justly regarded as an expression of their
wealth, and a form of treasure, just as much as the jewels or gold in
the sacred vessels; they are, in fact, nothing else than large
jewels,[31] the block of precious serpentine or jasper being valued
according to its size and brilliancy of color, like a large emerald or
ruby; only the bulk required to bestow value on the one is to be
measured in feet and tons, and on the other in lines and carats. The
shafts must therefore be, without exception, of one block in all
buildings of this kind; for the attempt in any place to incrust or joint
them would be a deception like that of introducing a false stone among
jewellery (for a number of joints of any precious stone are of course
not equal in value to a single piece of equal weight), and would put an
end at once to the spectator's confidence in the expression of wealth in
any portion of the structure, or of the spirit of sacrifice in those who
raised it.

§ XXXIV. LAW IV. _The shafts may sometimes be independent of the
construction._ Exactly in proportion to the importance which the shaft
assumes as a large jewel, is the diminution of its importance as a
sustaining member; for the delight which we receive in its abstract
bulk, and beauty of color, is altogether independent of any perception
of its adaptation to mechanical necessities. Like other beautiful things
in this world, its end is to _be_ beautiful; and, in proportion to its
beauty, it receives permission to be otherwise useless. We do not blame
emeralds and rubies because we cannot make them into heads of hammers.
Nay, so far from our admiration of the jewel shaft being dependent on
its doing work for us, it is very possible that a chief part of its
preciousness may consist in a delicacy, fragility, and tenderness of
material, which must render it utterly unfit for hard work; and
therefore that we shall admire it the more, because we perceive that if
we were to put much weight upon it, it would be crushed. But, at all
events, it is very clear that the primal object in the placing of such
shafts must be the display of their beauty to the best advantage, and
that therefore all imbedding of them in walls, or crowding of them into
groups, in any position in which either their real size or any portion
of their surface would be concealed, is either inadmissible altogether,
or objectionable in proportion to their value; that no symmetrical or
scientific arrangements of pillars are therefore ever to be expected in
buildings of this kind, and that all such are even to be looked upon as
positive errors and misapplications of materials: but that, on the
contrary, we must be constantly prepared to see, and to see with
admiration, shafts of great size and importance set in places where
their real service is little more than nominal, and where the chief end
of their existence is to catch the sunshine upon their polished sides,
and lead the eye into delighted wandering among the mazes of their azure

§ XXXV. LAW V. _The shafts may be of variable size._ Since the value of
each shaft depends upon its bulk, and diminishes with the diminution of
its mass, in a greater ratio than the size itself diminishes, as in the
case of all other jewellery, it is evident that we must not in general
expect perfect symmetry and equality among the series of shafts, any
more than definiteness of application; but that, on the contrary, an
accurately observed symmetry ought to give us a kind of pain, as proving
that considerable and useless loss has been sustained by some of the
shafts, in being cut down to match with the rest. It is true that
symmetry is generally sought for in works of smaller jewellery; but,
even there, not a perfect symmetry, and obtained under circumstances
quite different from those which affect the placing of shafts in
architecture. First: the symmetry is usually imperfect. The stones that
seem to match each other in a ring or necklace, appear to do so only
because they are so small that their differences are not easily measured
by the eye; but there is almost always such difference between them as
would be strikingly apparent if it existed in the same proportion
between two shafts nine or ten feet in height. Secondly: the quantity of
stones which pass through a jeweller's hands, and the facility of
exchange of such small objects, enable the tradesman to select any
number of stones of approximate size; a selection, however, often
requiring so much time, that perfect symmetry in a group of very fine
stones adds enormously to their value. But the architect has neither the
time nor the facilities of exchange. He cannot lay aside one column in a
corner of his church till, in the course of traffic, he obtain another
that will match it; he has not hundreds of shafts fastened up in
bundles, out of which he can match sizes at his ease; he cannot send to
a brother-tradesman and exchange the useless stones for available ones,
to the convenience of both. His blocks of stone, or his ready hewn
shafts, have been brought to him in limited number, from immense
distances; no others are to be had; and for those which he does not
bring into use, there is no demand elsewhere. His only means of
obtaining symmetry will therefore be, in cutting down the finer masses
to equality with the inferior ones; and this we ought not to desire him
often to do. And therefore, while sometimes in a Baldacchino, or an
important chapel or shrine, this costly symmetry may be necessary, and
admirable in proportion to its probable cost, in the general fabric we
must expect to see shafts introduced of size and proportion continually
varying, and such symmetry as may be obtained among them never
altogether perfect, and dependent for its charm frequently on strange
complexities and unexpected rising and falling of weight and accent in
its marble syllables; bearing the same relation to a rigidly chiselled
and proportioned architecture that the wild lyric rhythm of Æschylus or
Pindar bears to the finished measures of Pope.

§ XXXVI. The application of the principles of jewellery to the smaller
as well as the larger blocks, will suggest to us another reason for the
method of incrustation adopted in the walls. It often happens that the
beauty of the veining in some varieties of alabaster is so great, that
it becomes desirable to exhibit it by dividing the stone, not merely to
economize its substance, but to display the changes in the disposition
of its fantastic lines. By reversing one of two thin plates successively
taken from the stone, and placing their corresponding edges in contact,
a perfectly symmetrical figure may be obtained, which will enable the
eye to comprehend more thoroughly the position of the veins. And this is
actually the method in which, for the most part, the alabasters of St.
Mark are employed; thus accomplishing a double good,--directing the
spectator, in the first place, to close observation of the nature of the
stone employed, and in the second, giving him a farther proof of the
honesty of intention in the builder: for wherever similar veining is
discovered in two pieces, the fact is declared that they have been cut
from the same stone. It would have been easy to disguise the similarity
by using them in different parts of the building; but on the contrary
they are set edge to edge, so that the whole system of the architecture
may be discovered at a glance by any one acquainted with the nature of
the stones employed. Nay, but, it is perhaps answered me, not by an
ordinary observer; a person ignorant of the nature of alabaster might
perhaps fancy all these symmetrical patterns to have been found in the
stone itself, and thus be doubly deceived, supposing blocks to be solid
and symmetrical which were in reality subdivided and irregular. I grant
it; but be it remembered, that in all things, ignorance is liable to be
deceived, and has no right to accuse anything but itself as the source
of the deception. The style and the words are dishonest, not which are
liable to be misunderstood if subjected to no inquiry, but which are
deliberately calculated to lead inquiry astray. There are perhaps no
great or noble truths, from those of religion downwards, which present
no mistakeable aspect to casual or ignorant contemplation. Both the
truth and the lie agree in hiding themselves at first, but the lie
continues to hide itself with effort, as we approach to examine it; and
leads us, if undiscovered, into deeper lies; the truth reveals itself in
proportion to our patience and knowledge, discovers itself kindly to our
pleading, and leads us, as it is discovered, into deeper truths.

§ XXXVII. LAW VI. _The decoration must be shallow in cutting._ The
method of construction being thus systematized, it is evident that a
certain style of decoration must arise out of it, based on the primal
condition that over the greater part of the edifice there can be _no
deep cutting_. The thin sheets of covering stones do not admit of it; we
must not cut them through to the bricks; and whatever ornaments we
engrave upon them cannot, therefore, be more than an inch deep at the
utmost. Consider for an instant the enormous differences which this
single condition compels between the sculptural decoration of the
incrusted style, and that of the solid stones of the North, which may be
hacked and hewn into whatever cavernous hollows and black recesses we
choose; struck into grim darknesses and grotesque projections, and
rugged ploughings up of sinuous furrows, in which any form or thought
may be wrought out on any scale,--mighty statues with robes of rock and
crowned foreheads burning in the sun, or venomous goblins and stealthy
dragons shrunk into lurking-places of untraceable shade: think of this,
and of the play and freedom given to the sculptor's hand and temper, to
smite out and in, hither and thither, as he will; and then consider what
must be the different spirit of the design which is to be wrought on
the smooth surface of a film of marble, where every line and shadow must
be drawn with the most tender pencilling and cautious reserve of
resource,--where even the chisel must not strike hard, lest it break
through the delicate stone, nor the mind be permitted in any impetuosity
of conception inconsistent with the fine discipline of the hand.
Consider that whatever animal or human form is to be suggested, must be
projected on a flat surface; that all the features of the countenance,
the folds of the drapery, the involutions of the limbs, must be so
reduced and subdued that the whole work becomes rather a piece of fine
drawing than of sculpture; and then follow out, until you begin to
perceive their endlessness, the resulting differences of character which
will be necessitated in every part of the ornamental designs of these
incrusted churches, as compared with that of the Northern schools. I
shall endeavor to trace a few of them only.

§ XXXVIII. The first would of course be a diminution of the builder's
dependence upon human form as a source of ornament: since exactly in
proportion to the dignity of the form itself is the loss which it must
sustain in being reduced to a shallow and linear bas-relief, as well as
the difficulty of expressing it at all under such conditions. Wherever
sculpture can be solid, the nobler characters of the human form at once
lead the artist to aim at its representation, rather than at that of
inferior organisms; but when all is to be reduced to outline, the forms
of flowers and lower animals are always more intelligible, and are felt
to approach much more to a satisfactory rendering of the objects
intended, than the outlines of the human body. This inducement to seek
for resources of ornament in the lower fields of creation was powerless
in the minds of the great Pagan nations, Ninevite, Greek, or Egyptian:
first, because their thoughts were so concentrated on their own
capacities and fates, that they preferred the rudest suggestion of human
form to the best of an inferior organism; secondly, because their
constant practice in solid sculpture, often colossal, enabled them to
bring a vast amount of science into the treatment of the lines, whether
of the low relief, the monochrome vase, or shallow hieroglyphic.

§ XXXIX. But when various ideas adverse to the representation of animal,
and especially of human, form, originating with the Arabs and iconoclast
Greeks, had begun at any rate to direct the builders' minds to seek for
decorative materials in inferior types, and when diminished practice in
solid sculpture had rendered it more difficult to find artists capable
of satisfactorily reducing the high organisms to their elementary
outlines, the choice of subject for surface sculpture would be more and
more uninterruptedly directed to floral organisms, and human and animal
form would become diminished in size, frequency, and general importance.
So that, while in the Northern solid architecture we constantly find the
effect of its noblest features dependent on ranges of statues, often
colossal, and full of abstract interest, independent of their
architectural service, in the Southern incrusted style we must expect to
find the human form for the most part subordinate and diminutive, and
involved among designs of foliage and flowers, in the manner of which
endless examples had been furnished by the fantastic ornamentation of
the Romans, from which the incrusted style had been directly derived.

§ XL. Farther. In proportion to the degree in which his subject must be
reduced to abstract outline will be the tendency in the sculptor to
abandon naturalism of representation, and subordinate every form to
architectural service. Where the flower or animal can be hewn into bold
relief, there will always be a temptation to render the representation
of it more complete than is necessary, or even to introduce details and
intricacies inconsistent with simplicity of distant effect. Very often a
worse fault than this is committed; and in the endeavor to give vitality
to the stone, the original ornamental purpose of the design is
sacrificed or forgotten. But when nothing of this kind can be attempted,
and a slight outline is all that the sculptor can command, we may
anticipate that this outline will be composed with exquisite grace; and
that the richness of its ornamental arrangement will atone for the
feebleness of its power of portraiture. On the porch of a Northern
cathedral we may seek for the images of the flowers that grow in the
neighboring fields, and as we watch with wonder the grey stones that
fret themselves into thorns, and soften into blossoms, we may care
little that these knots of ornament, as we retire from them to
contemplate the whole building, appear unconsidered or confused. On the
incrusted building we must expect no such deception of the eye or
thoughts. It may sometimes be difficult to determine, from the
involutions of its linear sculpture, what were the natural forms which
originally suggested them: but we may confidently expect that the grace
of their arrangement will always be complete; that there will not be a
line in them which could be taken away without injury, nor one wanting
which could be added with advantage.

§ XLI. Farther. While the sculptures of the incrusted school will thus
be generally distinguished by care and purity rather than force, and
will be, for the most part, utterly wanting in depth of shadow, there
will be one means of obtaining darkness peculiarly simple and obvious,
and often in the sculptor's power. Wherever he can, without danger,
leave a hollow behind his covering slabs, or use them, like glass, to
fill an aperture in the wall, he can, by piercing them with holes,
obtain points or spaces of intense blackness to contrast with the light
tracing of the rest of his design. And we may expect to find this
artifice used the more extensively, because, while it will be an
effective means of ornamentation on the exterior of the building, it
will be also the safest way of admitting light to the interior, still
totally excluding both rain and wind. And it will naturally follow that
the architect, thus familiarized with the effect of black and sudden
points of shadow, will often seek to carry the same principle into other
portions of his ornamentation, and by deep drill-holes, or perhaps
inlaid portions of black color, to refresh the eye where it may be
wearied by the lightness of the general handling.

§ XLII. Farther. Exactly in proportion to the degree in which the force
of sculpture is subdued, will be the importance attached to color as a
means of effect or constituent of beauty. I have above stated that the
incrusted style was the only one in which perfect or permanent color
decoration was _possible_. It is also the only one in which a true
system of color decoration was ever likely to be invented. In order to
understand this, the reader must permit me to review with some care the
nature of the principles of coloring adopted by the Northern and
Southern nations.

§ XLIII. I believe that from the beginning of the world there has never
been a true or fine school of art in which color was despised. It has
often been imperfectly attained and injudiciously applied, but I believe
it to be one of the essential signs of life in a school of art, that it
loves color; and I know it to be one of the first signs of death in the
Renaissance schools, that they despised color.

Observe, it is not now the question whether our Northern cathedrals are
better with color or without. Perhaps the great monotone grey of Nature
and of Time is a better color than any that the human hand can give; but
that is nothing to our present business. The simple fact is, that the
builders of those cathedrals laid upon them the brightest colors they
could obtain, and that there is not, as far as I am aware, in Europe,
any monument of a truly noble school which has not been either painted
all over, or vigorously touched with paint, mosaic, and gilding in its
prominent parts. Thus far Egyptians, Greeks, Goths, Arabs, and mediæval
Christians all agree: none of them, when in their right senses, ever
think of doing without paint; and, therefore, when I said above that the
Venetians were the only people who had thoroughly sympathized with the
Arabs in this respect, I referred, first, to their intense love of
color, which led them to lavish the most expensive decorations on
ordinary dwelling-houses; and, secondly, to that perfection of the
color-instinct in them, which enabled them to render whatever they did,
in this kind, as just in principle as it was gorgeous in appliance. It
is this principle of theirs, as distinguished from that of the Northern
builders, which we have finally to examine.

§ XLIV. In the second chapter of the first volume, it was noticed that
the architect of Bourges Cathedral liked hawthorn, and that the porch of
his cathedral was therefore decorated with a rich wreath of it; but
another of the predilections of that architect was there unnoticed,
namely, that he did not at all like _grey_ hawthorn, but preferred it
green, and he painted it green accordingly, as bright as he could. The
color is still left in every sheltered interstice of the foliage. He
had, in fact, hardly the choice of any other color; he might have gilded
the thorns, by way of allegorizing human life, but if they were to be
painted at all, they could hardly be painted any tiling but green, and
green all over. People would have been apt to object to any pursuit of
abstract harmonies of color, which might have induced him to paint his
hawthorn blue.

§ XLV. In the same way, whenever the subject of the sculpture was
definite, its color was of necessity definite also; and, in the hands of
the Northern builders, it often became, in consequence, rather the means
of explaining and animating the stories of their stone-work, than a
matter of abstract decorative science. Flowers were painted red, trees
green, and faces flesh-color; the result of the whole being often far
more entertaining than beautiful. And also, though in the lines of the
mouldings and the decorations of shafts or vaults, a richer and more
abstract method of coloring was adopted (aided by the rapid development
of the best principles of color in early glass-painting), the vigorous
depths of shadow in the Northern sculpture confused the architect's eye,
compelling him to use violent colors in the recesses, if these were to
be seen as color at all, and thus injured his perception of more
delicate color harmonies; so that in innumerable instances it becomes
very disputable whether monuments even of the best times were improved
by the color bestowed upon them, or the contrary. But, in the South, the
flatness and comparatively vague forms of the sculpture, while they
appeared to call for color in order to enhance their interest, presented
exactly the conditions which would set it off to the greatest advantage;
breadth of surface displaying even the most delicate tints in the
lights, and faintness of shadow joining with the most delicate and
pearly greys of color harmony; while the subject of the design being in
nearly all cases reduced to mere intricacy of ornamental line, might be
colored in any way the architect chose without any loss of rationality.
Where oak-leaves and roses were carved into fresh relief and perfect
bloom, it was necessary to paint the one green and the other red; but in
portions of ornamentation where there was nothing which could be
definitely construed into either an oak-leaf or a rose, but a mere
labyrinth of beautiful lines, becoming here something like a leaf, and
there something like a flower, the whole tracery of the sculpture might
be left white, and grounded with gold or blue, or treated in any other
manner best harmonizing with the colors around it. And as the
necessarily feeble character of the sculpture called for and was ready
to display the best arrangements of color, so the precious marbles in
the architect's hands give him at once the best examples and the best
means of color. The best examples, for the tints of all natural stones
are as exquisite in quality as endless in change; and the best means,
for they are all permanent.

§ XLVI. Every motive thus concurred in urging him to the study of
chromatic decoration, and every advantage was given him in the pursuit
of it; and this at the very moment when, as presently to be noticed, the
_naïveté_ of barbaric Christianity could only be forcibly appealed to by
the help of colored pictures: so that, both externally and internally,
the architectural construction became partly merged in pictorial effect;
and the whole edifice is to be regarded less as a temple wherein to
pray, than as itself a Book of Common Prayer, a vast illuminated missal,
bound with alabaster instead of parchment, studded with porphyry pillars
instead of jewels, and written within and without in letters of enamel
and gold.

§ XLVII. LAW VII. _That the impression of the architecture is not to be
dependent on size._ And now there is but one final consequence to be
deduced. The reader understands, I trust, by this time, that the claims
of these several parts of the building upon his attention will depend
upon their delicacy of design, their perfection of color, their
preciousness of material, and their legendary interest. All these
qualities are independent of size, and partly even inconsistent with it.
Neither delicacy of surface sculpture, nor subtle gradations of color,
can be appreciated by the eye at a distance; and since we have seen that
our sculpture is generally to be only an inch or two in depth, and that
our coloring is in great part to be produced with the soft tints and
veins of natural stones, it will follow necessarily that none of the
parts of the building can be removed far from the eye, and therefore
that the whole mass of it cannot be large. It is not even desirable that
it should be so; for the temper in which the mind addresses itself to
contemplate minute and beautiful details is altogether different from
that in which it submits itself to vague impressions of space and size.
And therefore we must not be disappointed, but grateful, when we find
all the best work of the building concentrated within a space
comparatively small; and that, for the great cliff-like buttresses and
mighty piers of the North, shooting up into indiscernible height, we
have here low walls spread before us like the pages of a book, and
shafts whose capitals we may touch with our hand.

§ XLVIII. The due consideration of the principles above stated will
enable the traveller to judge with more candor and justice of the
architecture of St. Mark's than usually it would have been possible for
him to do while under the influence of the prejudices necessitated by
familiarity with the very different schools of Northern art. I wish it
were in my power to lay also before the general reader some
exemplification of the manner in which these strange principles are
developed in the lovely building. But exactly in proportion to the
nobility of any work, is the difficulty of conveying a just impression
of it; and wherever I have occasion to bestow high praise, there it is
exactly most dangerous for me to endeavor to illustrate my meaning,
except by reference to the work itself. And, in fact, the principal
reason why architectural criticism is at this day so far behind all
other, is the impossibility of illustrating the best architecture
faithfully. Of the various schools of painting, examples are accessible
to every one, and reference to the works themselves is found sufficient
for all purposes of criticism; but there is nothing like St. Mark's or
the Ducal Palace to be referred to in the National Gallery, and no
faithful illustration of them is possible on the scale of such a volume
as this. And it is exceedingly difficult on any scale. Nothing is so
rare in art, as far as my own experience goes, as a fair illustration of
architecture; _perfect_ illustration of it does not exist. For all good
architecture depends upon the adaptation of its chiselling to the effect
at a certain distance from the eye; and to render the peculiar confusion
in the midst of order, and uncertainty in the midst of decision, and
mystery in the midst of trenchant lines, which are the result of
distance, together with perfect expression of the peculiarities of the
design, requires the skill of the most admirable artist, devoted to the
work with the most severe conscientiousness, neither the skill nor the
determination having as yet been given to the subject. And in the
illustration of details, every building of any pretensions to high
architectural rank would require a volume of plates, and those finished
with extraordinary care. With respect to the two buildings which are the
principal subjects of the present volume, St. Mark's and the Ducal
Palace, I have found it quite impossible to do them the slightest
justice by any kind of portraiture; and I abandoned the endeavor in the
case of the latter with less regret, because in the new Crystal Palace
(as the poetical public insist upon calling it, though it is neither a
palace, nor of crystal) there will be placed, I believe, a noble cast of
one of its angles. As for St. Mark's, the effort was hopeless from the
beginning. For its effect depends not only upon the most delicate
sculpture in every part, but, as we have just stated, eminently on its
color also, and that the most subtle, variable, inexpressible color in
the world,--the color of glass, of transparent alabaster, of polished
marble, and lustrous gold. It would be easier to illustrate a crest of
Scottish mountain, with its purple heather and pale harebells at their
fullest and fairest, or a glade of Jura forest, with its floor of
anemone and moss, than a single portico of St. Mark's. The fragment of
one of its archivolts, given at the bottom of the opposite Plate, is not
to illustrate the thing itself, but to illustrate the impossibility of

§ XLIX. It is left a fragment, in order to get it on a larger scale; and
yet even on this scale it is too small to show the sharp folds and
points of the marble vine-leaves with sufficient clearness. The ground
of it is gold, the sculpture in the spandrils is not more than an inch
and a half deep, rarely so much. It is in fact nothing more than an
exquisite sketching of outlines in marble, to about the same depth as in
the Elgin frieze; the draperies, however, being filled with close folds,
in the manner of the Byzantine pictures, folds especially necessary
here, as large masses could not be expressed in the shallow sculpture
without becoming insipid; but the disposition of these folds is always
most beautiful, and often opposed by broad and simple spaces, like that
obtained by the scroll in the hand of the prophet, seen in the plate.

[Illustration: Plate VI.
               THE VINE TREE, AND IN SERVICE.]

The balls in the archivolt project considerably, and the interstices
between their interwoven bands of marble are filled with colors like the
illuminations of a manuscript; violet, crimson, blue, gold, and green
alternately: but no green is ever used without an intermixture of blue
pieces in the mosaic, nor any blue without a little centre of pale
green; sometimes only a single piece of glass a quarter of an inch
square, so subtle was the feeling for color which was thus to be
satisfied.[32] The intermediate circles have golden stars set on an
azure ground, varied in the same manner; and the small crosses seen in
the intervals are alternately blue and subdued scarlet, with two small
circles of white set in the golden ground above and beneath them, each
only about half an inch across (this work, remember, being on the
outside of the building, and twenty feet above the eye), while the blue
crosses have each a pale green centre. Of all this exquisitely
mingled hue, no plate, however large or expensive, could give any
adequate conception; but, if the reader will supply in imagination to
the engraving what he supplies to a common woodcut of a group of
flowers, the decision of the respective merits of modern and of
Byzantine architecture may be allowed to rest on this fragment of St.
Mark's alone.

From the vine-leaves of that archivolt, though there is no direct
imitation of nature in them, but on the contrary a studious subjection
to architectural purpose more particularly to be noticed hereafter, we
may yet receive the same kind of pleasure which we have in seeing true
vine-leaves and wreathed branches traced upon golden light; its stars
upon their azure ground ought to make us remember, as its builder
remembered, the stars that ascend and fall in the great arch of the sky:
and I believe that stars, and boughs, and leaves, and bright colors are
everlastingly lovely, and to be by all men beloved; and, moreover, that
church walls grimly seared with squared lines, are not better nor nobler
things than these. I believe the man who designed and the men who
delighted in that archivolt to have been wise, happy, and holy. Let the
reader look back to the archivolt I have already given out of the
streets of London (Plate XIII. Vol. I.), and see what there is in it to
make us any of the three. Let him remember that the men who design such
work as that call St. Mark's a barbaric monstrosity, and let him judge
between us.

§ L. Some farther details of the St. Mark's architecture, and especially
a general account of Byzantine capitals, and of the principal ones at
the angles of the church, will be found in the following chapter.[33]
Here I must pass on to the second part of our immediate subject, namely,
the inquiry how far the exquisite and varied ornament of St. Mark's fits
it, as a Temple, for its sacred purpose, and would be applicable in the
churches of modern times. We have here evidently two questions: the
first, that wide and continually agitated one, whether richness of
ornament be right in churches at all; the second, whether the ornament
of St. Mark's be of a truly ecclesiastical and Christian character.

§ LI. In the first chapter of the "Seven Lamps of Architecture" I
endeavored to lay before the reader some reasons why churches ought to
be richly adorned, as being the only places in which the desire of
offering a portion of all precious things to God could be legitimately
expressed. But I left wholly untouched the question: whether the church,
as such, stood in need of adornment, or would be better fitted for its
purposes by possessing it. This question I would now ask the reader to
deal with briefly and candidly.

The chief difficulty in deciding it has arisen from its being always
presented to us in an unfair form. It is asked of us, or we ask of
ourselves, whether the sensation which we now feel in passing from our
own modern dwelling-house, through a newly built street, into a
cathedral of the thirteenth century, be safe or desirable as a
preparation for public worship. But we never ask whether that sensation
was at all calculated upon by the builders of the cathedral.

§ LII. Now I do not say that the contrast of the ancient with the modern
building, and the strangeness with which the earlier architectural forms
fall upon the eye, are at this day disadvantageous. But I do say, that
their effect, whatever it may be, was entirely uncalculated upon by the
old builder. He endeavored to make his work beautiful, but never
expected it to be strange. And we incapacitate ourselves altogether from
fair judgment of its intention, if we forget that, when it was built, it
rose in the midst of other work fanciful and beautiful as itself; that
every dwelling-house in the middle ages was rich with the same ornaments
and quaint with the same grotesques which fretted the porches or
animated the gargoyles of the cathedral; that what we now regard with
doubt and wonder, as well as with delight, was then the natural
continuation, into the principal edifice of the city, of a style which
was familiar to every eye throughout all its lanes and streets; and that
the architect had often no more idea of producing a peculiarly
devotional impression by the richest color and the most elaborate
carving, than the builder of a modern meeting-house has by his
whitewashed walls and square-cut casements.[34]

§ LIII. Let the reader fix this great fact well in his mind, and then
follow out its important corollaries. We attach, in modern days, a kind
of sacredness to the pointed arch and the groined roof, because, while
we look habitually out of square windows and live under flat ceilings,
we meet with the more beautiful forms in the ruins of our abbeys. But
when those abbeys were built, the pointed arch was used for every shop
door, as well as for that of the cloister, and the feudal baron and
freebooter feasted, as the monk sang, under vaulted roofs; not because
the vaulting was thought especially appropriate to either the revel or
psalm, but because it was then the form in which a strong roof was
easiest built. We have destroyed the goodly architecture of our cities;
we have substituted one wholly devoid of beauty or meaning; and then we
reason respecting the strange effect upon our minds of the fragments
which, fortunately, we have left in our churches, as if those churches
had always been designed to stand out in strong relief from all the
buildings around them, and Gothic architecture had always been, what it
is now, a religious language, like Monkish Latin. Most readers know, if
they would arouse their knowledge, that this was not so; but they take
no pains to reason the matter out: they abandon themselves drowsily to
the impression that Gothic is a peculiarly ecclesiastical style; and
sometimes, even, that richness in church ornament is a condition or
furtherance of the Romish religion. Undoubtedly it has become so in
modern times: for there being no beauty in our recent architecture, and
much in the remains of the past, and these remains being almost
exclusively ecclesiastical, the High Church and Romanist parties have
not been slow in availing themselves of the natural instincts which were
deprived of all food except from this source; and have willingly
promulgated the theory, that because all the good architecture that is
now left is expressive of High Church or Romanist doctrines, all good
architecture ever has been and must be so,--a piece of absurdity from
which, though here and there a country clergyman may innocently believe
it, I hope the common sense of the nation will soon manfully quit
itself. It needs but little inquiry into the spirit of the past, to
ascertain what, once for all, I would desire here clearly and forcibly
to assert, that wherever Christian church architecture has been good and
lovely, it has been merely the perfect development of the common
dwelling-house architecture of the period; that when the pointed arch
was used in the street, it was used in the church; when the round arch
was used in the street, it was used in the church; when the pinnacle was
set over the garret window, it was set over the belfry tower; when the
flat roof was used for the drawing-room, it was used for the nave. There
is no sacredness in round arches, nor in pointed; none in pinnacles, nor
in buttresses; none in pillars, nor in traceries. Churches were larger
than most other buildings, because they had to hold more people; they
were more adorned than most other buildings, because they were safer
from violence, and were the fitting subjects of devotional offering: but
they were never built in any separate, mystical, and religious style;
they were built in the manner that was common and familiar to everybody
at the time. The flamboyant traceries that adorn the façade of Rouen
Cathedral had once their fellows in every window of every house in the
market-place; the sculptures that adorn the porches of St. Mark's had
once their match on the walls of every palace on the Grand Canal; and
the only difference between the church and the dwelling-house was, that
there existed a symbolical meaning in the distribution of the parts of
all buildings meant for worship, and that the painting or sculpture was,
in the one case, less frequently of profane subject than in the other. A
more severe distinction cannot be drawn: for secular history was
constantly introduced into church architecture; and sacred history or
allusion generally formed at least one half of the ornament of the

§ LIV. This fact is so important, and so little considered, that I must
be pardoned for dwelling upon it at some length, and accurately marking
the limits of the assertion I have made. I do not mean that every
dwelling-house of mediæval cities was as richly adorned and as exquisite
in composition as the fronts of their cathedrals, but that they
presented features of the same kind, often in parts quite as beautiful;
and that the churches were not separated by any change of style from the
buildings round them, as they are now, but were merely more finished and
full examples of a universal style, rising out of the confused streets
of the city as an oak tree does out of an oak copse, not differing in
leafage, but in size and symmetry. Of course the quainter and smaller
forms of turret and window necessary for domestic service, the inferior
materials, often wood instead of stone, and the fancy of the
inhabitants, which had free play in the design, introduced oddnesses,
vulgarities, and variations into house architecture, which were
prevented by the traditions, the wealth, and the skill of the monks and
freemasons; while, on the other hand, conditions of vaulting,
buttressing, and arch and tower building, were necessitated by the mere
size of the cathedral, of which it would be difficult to find examples
elsewhere. But there was nothing more in these features than the
adaptation of mechanical skill to vaster requirements; there was nothing
intended to be, or felt to be, especially ecclesiastical in any of the
forms so developed; and the inhabitants of every village and city, when
they furnished funds for the decoration of their church, desired merely
to adorn the house of God as they adorned their own, only a little more
richly, and with a somewhat graver temper in the subjects of the
carving. Even this last difference is not always clearly discernible:
all manner of ribaldry occurs in the details of the ecclesiastical
buildings of the North, and at the time when the best of them were
built, every man's house was a kind of temple; a figure of the Madonna,
or of Christ, almost always occupied a niche over the principal door,
and the Old Testament histories were curiously interpolated amidst the
grotesques of the brackets and the gables.

§ LV. And the reader will now perceive that the question respecting
fitness of church decoration rests in reality on totally different
grounds from those commonly made foundations of argument. So long as our
streets are walled with barren brick, and our eyes rest continually, in
our daily life, on objects utterly ugly, or of inconsistent and
meaningless design, it may be a doubtful question whether the faculties
of eye and mind which are capable of perceiving beauty, having been left
without food during the whole of our active life, should be suddenly
feasted upon entering a place of worship; and color, and music, and
sculpture should delight the senses, and stir the curiosity of men
unaccustomed to such appeal, at the moment when they are required to
compose themselves for acts of devotion;--this, I say, may be a doubtful
question: but it cannot be a question at all, that if once familiarized
with beautiful form and color, and accustomed to see in whatever human
hands have executed for us, even for the lowest services, evidence of
noble thought and admirable skill, we shall desire to see this evidence
also in whatever is built or labored for the house of prayer; that the
absence of the accustomed loveliness would disturb instead of assisting
devotion; and that we should feel it as vain to ask whether, with our
own house full of goodly craftsmanship, we should worship God in a house
destitute of it, as to ask whether a pilgrim whose day's journey had led
him through fair woods and by sweet waters, must at evening turn aside
into some barren place to pray.

§ LVI. Then the second question submitted to us, whether the ornament of
St. Mark's be truly ecclesiastical and Christian, is evidently
determined together with the first; for, if not only the permission of
ornament at all, but the beautiful execution of it, be dependent on our
being familiar with it in daily life, it will follow that no style of
noble architecture _can_ be exclusively ecclesiastical. It must be
practised in the dwelling before it be perfected in the church, and it
is the test of a noble style that it shall be applicable to both; for if
essentially false and ignoble, it may be made to fit the dwelling-house,
but never can be made to fit the church: and just as there are many
principles which will bear the light of the world's opinion, yet will
not bear the light of God's word, while all principles which will bear
the test of Scripture will also bear that of practice, so in
architecture there are many forms which expediency and convenience may
apparently justify, or at least render endurable, in daily use, which
will yet be found offensive the moment they are used for church service;
but there are none good for church service, which cannot bear daily use.
Thus the Renaissance manner of building is a convenient style for
dwelling-houses, but the natural sense of all religious men causes them
to turn from it with pain when it has been used in churches; and this
has given rise to the popular idea that the Roman style is good for
houses and the Gothic for churches. This is not so; the Roman style is
essentially base, and we can bear with it only so long as it gives us
convenient windows and spacious rooms; the moment the question of
convenience is set aside, and the expression or beauty of the style is
tried by its being used in a church, we find it fail. But because the
Gothic and Byzantine styles are fit for churches they are not therefore
less fit for dwellings. They are in the highest sense fit and good for
both, nor were they ever brought to perfection except where they were
used for both.

§ LVII. But there is one character of Byzantine work which, according to
the time at which it was employed, may be considered as either fitting
or unfitting it for distinctly ecclesiastical purposes; I mean the
essentially pictorial character of its decoration. We have already seen
what large surfaces it leaves void of bold architectural features, to be
rendered interesting merely by surface ornament or sculpture. In this
respect Byzantine work differs essentially from pure Gothic styles,
which are capable of filling every vacant space by features purely
architectural, and may be rendered, if we please, altogether independent
of pictorial aid. A Gothic church may be rendered impressive by mere
successions of arches, accumulations of niches, and entanglements of
tracery. But a Byzantine church requires expression and interesting
decoration over vast plane surfaces,--decoration which becomes noble
only by becoming pictorial; that is to say, by representing natural
objects,--men, animals, or flowers. And, therefore, the question whether
the Byzantine style be fit for church service in modern days, becomes
involved in the inquiry, what effect upon religion has been or may yet
be produced by pictorial art, and especially by the art of the

§ LVIII. The more I have examined the subject the more dangerous I have
found it to dogmatize respecting the character of the art which is
likely, at a given period, to be most useful to the cause of religion.
One great fact first meets me. I cannot answer for the experience of
others, but I never yet met with a Christian whose heart was thoroughly
set upon the world to come, and, so far as human judgment could
pronounce, perfect and right before God, who cared about art at all. I
have known several very noble Christian men who loved it intensely, but
in them there was always traceable some entanglement of the thoughts
with the matters of this world, causing them to fall into strange
distresses and doubts, and often leading them into what they themselves
would confess to be errors in understanding, or even failures in duty. I
do not say that these men may not, many of them, be in very deed nobler
than those whose conduct is more consistent; they may be more tender in
the tone of all their feelings, and farther-sighted in soul, and for
that very reason exposed to greater trials and fears, than those whose
hardier frame and naturally narrower vision enable them with less effort
to give their hands to God and walk with Him. But still, the general
fact is indeed so, that I have never known a man who seemed altogether
right and calm in faith, who seriously cared about art; and when
casually moved by it, it is quite impossible to say beforehand by what
class of art this impression will on such men be made. Very often it is
by a theatrical commonplace, more frequently still by false sentiment. I
believe that the four painters who have had, and still have, the most
influence, such as it is, on the ordinary Protestant Christian mind, are
Carlo Dolci, Guercino, Benjamin West, and John Martin. Raphael, much as
he is talked about, is, I believe in very fact, rarely looked at by
religious people; much less his master, or any of the truly great
religious men of old. But a smooth Magdalen of Carlo Dolci with a tear
on each cheek, or a Guercino Christ or St. John, or a Scripture
illustration of West's, or a black cloud with a flash of lightning in it
of Martin's, rarely fails of being verily, often deeply, felt for the

§ LIX. There are indeed many very evident reasons for this; the chief
one being that, as all truly great religious painters have been hearty
Romanists, there are none of their works which do not embody, in some
portions of them, definitely Romanist doctrines. The Protestant mind is
instantly struck by these, and offended by them, so as to be incapable
of entering, or at least rendered indisposed to enter, farther into the
heart of the work, or to the discovering those deeper characters of it,
which are not Romanist, but Christian, in the everlasting sense and
power of Christianity. Thus most Protestants, entering for the first
time a Paradise of Angelico, would be irrevocably offended by finding
that the first person the painter wished them to speak to was St.
Dominic; and would retire from such a heaven as speedily as
possible,--not giving themselves time to discover, that whether dressed
in black, or white, or grey, and by whatever name in the calendar they
might be called, the figures that filled that Angelico heaven were
indeed more saintly, and pure, and full of love in every feature, than
any that the human hand ever traced before or since. And thus
Protestantism, having foolishly sought for the little help it requires
at the hand of painting from the men who embodied no Catholic doctrine,
has been reduced to receive it from those who believed neither
Catholicism nor Protestantism, but who read the Bible in search of the
picturesque. We thus refuse to regard the painters who passed their
lives in prayer, but are perfectly ready to be taught by those who spent
them in debauchery. There is perhaps no more popular Protestant picture
than Salvator's "Witch of Endor," of which the subject was chosen by the
painter simply because, under the names of Saul and the Sorceress, he
could paint a captain of banditti, and a Neapolitan hag.

§ LX. The fact seems to be that strength of religious feeling is capable
of supplying for itself whatever is wanting in the rudest suggestions of
art, and will either, on the one hand, purify what is coarse into
inoffensiveness, or, on the other, raise what is feeble into
impressiveness. Probably all art, as such, is unsatisfactory to it; and
the effort which it makes to supply the void will be induced rather by
association and accident than by the real merit of the work submitted to
it. The likeness to a beloved friend, the correspondence with a habitual
conception, the freedom from any strange or offensive particularity,
and, above all, an interesting choice of incident, will win admiration
for a picture when the noblest efforts of religious imagination would
otherwise fail of power. How much more, when to the quick capacity of
emotion is joined a childish trust that the picture does indeed
represent a fact! it matters little whether the fact be well or ill
told; the moment we believe the picture to be true, we complain little
of its being ill-painted. Let it be considered for a moment, whether the
child, with its colored print, inquiring eagerly and gravely which is
Joseph, and which is Benjamin, is not more capable of receiving a
strong, even a sublime, impression from the rude symbol which it invests
with reality by its own effort, than the connoisseur who admires the
grouping of the three figures in Raphael's "Telling of the Dreams;" and
whether also, when the human mind is in right religious tone, it has not
always this childish power--I speak advisedly, this power--a noble one,
and possessed more in youth than at any period of after life, but
always, I think, restored in a measure by religion--of raising into
sublimity and reality the rudest symbol which is given to it of
accredited truth.

§ LXI. Ever since the period of the Renaissance, however, the truth has
not been accredited; the painter of religious subject is no longer
regarded as the narrator of a fact, but as the inventor of an idea.[35]
We do not severely criticise the manner in which a true history is
told, but we become harsh investigators of the faults of an invention;
so that in the modern religious mind, the capacity of emotion, which
renders judgment uncertain, is joined with an incredulity which renders
it severe; and this ignorant emotion, joined with ignorant observance of
faults, is the worst possible temper in which any art can be regarded,
but more especially sacred art. For as religious faith renders emotion
facile, so also it generally renders expression simple; that is to say a
truly religious painter will very often be ruder, quainter, simpler, and
more faulty in his manner of working, than a great irreligious one. And
it was in this artless utterance, and simple acceptance, on the part of
both the workman and the beholder, that all noble schools of art have
been cradled; it is in them that they _must_ be cradled to the end of
time. It is impossible to calculate the enormous loss of power in modern
days, owing to the imperative requirement that art shall be methodical
and learned: for as long as the constitution of this world remains
unaltered, there will be more intellect in it than there can be
education; there will be many men capable of just sensation and vivid
invention, who never will have time to cultivate or polish their natural
powers. And all unpolished power is in the present state of society
lost; in other things as well as in the arts, but in the arts
especially: nay, in nine cases out of ten, people mistake the polish for
the power. Until a man has passed through a course of academy
studentship, and can draw in an approved manner with French chalk, and
knows foreshortening, and perspective, and something of anatomy, we do
not think he can possibly be an artist; what is worse, we are very apt
to think that we can _make_ him an artist by teaching him anatomy, and
how to draw with French chalk; whereas the real gift in him is utterly
independent of all such accomplishments: and I believe there are many
peasants on every estate, and laborers in every town, of Europe, who
have imaginative powers of a high order, which nevertheless cannot be
used for our good, because we do not choose to look at anything but what
is expressed in a legal and scientific way. I believe there is many a
village mason who, set to carve a series of Scripture or any other
histories, would find many a strange and noble fancy in his head, and
set it down, roughly enough indeed, but in a way well worth our having.
But we are too grand to let him do this, or to set up his clumsy work
when it is done; and accordingly the poor stone-mason is kept hewing
stones smooth at the corners, and we build our church of the smooth
square stones, and consider ourselves wise.

§ LXII. I shall pursue this subject farther in another place; but I
allude to it here in order to meet the objections of those persons who
suppose the mosaics of St. Mark's, and others of the period, to be
utterly barbarous as representations of religious history. Let it be
granted that they are so; we are not for that reason to suppose they
were ineffective in religious teaching. I have above spoken of the whole
church as a great Book of Common Prayer; the mosaics were its
illuminations, and the common people of the time were taught their
Scripture history by means of them, more impressively perhaps, though
far less fully, than ours are now by Scripture reading. They had no
other Bible, and--Protestants do not often enough consider this--_could_
have no other. We find it somewhat difficult to furnish our poor with
printed Bibles; consider what the difficulty must have been when they
could be given only in manuscript. The walls of the church necessarily
became the poor man's Bible, and a picture was more easily read upon the
walls than a chapter. Under this view, and considering them merely as
the Bible pictures of a great nation in its youth, I shall finally
invite the reader to examine the connexion and subjects of these
mosaics; but in the meantime I have to deprecate the idea of their
execution being in any sense barbarous. I have conceded too much to
modern prejudice, in permitting them to be rated as mere childish
efforts at colored portraiture: they have characters in them of a very
noble kind; nor are they by any means devoid of the remains of the
science of the later Roman empire. The character of the features is
almost always fine, the expression stern and quiet, and very solemn, the
attitudes and draperies always majestic in the single figures, and in
those of the groups which are not in violent action;[36] while the
bright coloring and disregard of chiaroscuro cannot be regarded as
imperfections, since they are the only means by which the figures could
be rendered clearly intelligible in the distance and darkness of the
vaulting. So far am I from considering them barbarous, that I believe of
all works of religious art whatsoever, these, and such as these, have
been the most effective. They stand exactly midway between the debased
manufacture of wooden and waxen images which is the support of Romanist
idolatry all over the world, and the great art which leads the mind away
from the religious subject to the art itself. Respecting neither of
these branches of human skill is there, nor can there be, any question.
The manufacture of puppets, however influential on the Romanist mind of
Europe, is certainly not deserving of consideration as one of the fine
arts. It matters literally nothing to a Romanist what the image he
worships is like. Take the vilest doll that is screwed together in a
cheap toy-shop, trust it to the keeping of a large family of children,
let it be beaten about the house by them till it is reduced to a
shapeless block, then dress it in a satin frock and declare it to have
fallen from heaven, and it will satisfactorily answer all Romanist
purposes. Idolatry,[37] it cannot be too often repeated, is no
encourager of the fine arts. But, on the other hand, the highest
branches of the fine arts are no encouragers either of idolatry or of
religion. No picture of Leonardo's or Raphael's, no statue of Michael
Angelo's, has ever been worshipped, except by accident. Carelessly
regarded, and by ignorant persons, there is less to attract in them than
in commoner works. Carefully regarded, and by intelligent persons, they
instantly divert the mind from their subject to their art, so that
admiration takes the place of devotion. I do not say that the Madonna di
S. Sisto, the Madonna del Cardellino, and such others, have not had
considerable religious influence on certain minds, but I say that on the
mass of the people of Europe they have had none whatever; while by far
the greater number of the most celebrated statues and pictures are never
regarded with any other feelings than those of admiration of human
beauty, or reverence for human skill. Effective religious art,
therefore, has always lain, and I believe must always lie, between the
two extremes--of barbarous idol-fashioning on one side, and magnificent
craftsmanship on the other. It consists partly in missal painting, and
such book-illustrations as, since the invention of printing, have taken
its place; partly in glass-painting; partly in rude sculpture on the
outsides of buildings; partly in mosaics; and partly in the frescoes and
tempera pictures which, in the fourteenth century, formed the link
between this powerful, because imperfect, religious art, and the
impotent perfection which succeeded it.

§ LXIII. But of all these branches the most important are the inlaying
and mosaic of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, represented in a
central manner by these mosaics of St. Mark's. Missal-painting could
not, from its minuteness, produce the same sublime impressions, and
frequently merged itself in mere ornamentation of the page. Modern
book-illustration has been so little skilful as hardly to be worth
naming. Sculpture, though in some positions it becomes of great
importance, has always a tendency to lose itself in architectural
effect; and was probably seldom deciphered, in all its parts, by the
common people, still less the traditions annealed in the purple burning
of the painted window. Finally, tempera pictures and frescoes were often
of limited size or of feeble color. But the great mosaics of the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries covered the walls and roofs of the churches
with inevitable lustre; they could not be ignored or escaped from; their
size rendered them majestic, their distance mysterious, their color
attractive. They did not pass into confused or inferior decorations;
neither were they adorned with any evidences of skill or science, such
as might withdraw the attention from their subjects. They were before
the eyes of the devotee at every interval of his worship; vast
shadowings forth of scenes to whose realization he looked forward, or of
spirits whose presence he invoked. And the man must be little capable of
receiving a religious impression of any kind, who, to this day, does not
acknowledge some feeling of awe, as he looks up at the pale countenances
and ghastly forms which haunt the dark roofs of the Baptisteries of
Parma and Florence, or remains altogether untouched by the majesty of
the colossal images of apostles, and of Him who sent apostles, that look
down from the darkening gold of the domes of Venice and Pisa.

§ LXIV. I shall, in a future portion of this work, endeavor to discover
what probabilities there are of our being able to use this kind of art
in modern churches; but at present it remains for us to follow out the
connexion of the subjects represented in St. Mark's so as to fulfil our
immediate object, and form an adequate conception of the feelings of its
builders, and of its uses to those for whom it was built.

Now there is one circumstance to which I must, in the outset, direct the
reader's special attention, as forming a notable distinction between
ancient and modern days. Our eyes are now familiar and wearied with
writing; and if an inscription is put upon a building, unless it be
large and clear, it is ten to one whether we ever trouble ourselves to
decipher it. But the old architect was sure of readers. He knew that
every one would be glad to decipher all that he wrote; that they would
rejoice in possessing the vaulted leaves of his stone manuscript; and
that the more he gave them, the more grateful would the people be. We
must take some pains, therefore, when we enter St. Mark's, to read all
that is inscribed, or we shall not penetrate into the feeling either of
the builder or of his times.

§ LXV. A large atrium or portico is attached to two sides of the church,
a space which was especially reserved for unbaptized persons and new
converts. It was thought right that, before their baptism, these persons
should be led to contemplate the great facts of the Old Testament
history; the history of the Fall of Man, and of the lives of Patriarchs
up to the period of the Covenant by Moses: the order of the subjects in
this series being very nearly the same as in many Northern churches, but
significantly closing with the Fall of the Manna, in order to mark to
the catechumen the insufficiency of the Mosaic covenant for
salvation,--"Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are
dead,"--and to turn his thoughts to the true Bread of which that manna
was the type.

§ LXVI. Then, when after his baptism he was permitted to enter the
church, over its main entrance he saw, on looking back, a mosaic of
Christ enthroned, with the Virgin on one side and St. Mark on the other,
in attitudes of adoration. Christ is represented as holding a book open
upon his knee, on which is written: "I AM THE DOOR; BY ME IF ANY MAN
ENTER IN, HE SHALL BE SAVED." On the red marble moulding which surrounds
the mosaic is written: "I AM THE GATE OF LIFE; LET THOSE WHO ARE MINE
ENTER BY ME." Above, on the red marble fillet which forms the cornice of
the west end of the church, is written, with reference to the figure of

Now observe, this was not to be seen and read only by the catechumen
when he first entered the church; every one who at any time entered, was
supposed to look back and to read this writing; their daily entrance
into the church was thus made a daily memorial of their first entrance
into the spiritual Church; and we shall find that the rest of the book
which was opened for them upon its walls continually led them in the
same manner to regard the visible temple as in every part a type of the
invisible Church of God.

§ LXVII. Therefore the mosaic of the first dome, which is over the head
of the spectator as soon as he has entered by the great door (that door
being the type of baptism), represents the effusion of the Holy Spirit,
as the first consequence and seal of the entrance into the Church of
God. In the centre of the cupola is the Dove, enthroned in the Greek
manner, as the Lamb is enthroned, when the Divinity of the Second and
Third Persons is to be insisted upon together with their peculiar
offices. From the central symbol of the Holy Spirit twelve streams of
fire descend upon the heads of the twelve apostles, who are represented
standing around the dome; and below them, between the windows which are
pierced in its walls, are represented, by groups of two figures for each
separate people, the various nations who heard the apostles speak, at
Pentecost, every man in his own tongue. Finally, on the vaults, at the
four angles which support the cupola, are pictured four angels, each
bearing a tablet upon the end of a rod in his hand: on each of the
tablets of the three first angels is inscribed the word "Holy;" on that
of the fourth is written "Lord;" and the beginning of the hymn being
thus put into the mouths of the four angels, the words of it are
continued around the border of the dome, uniting praise to God for the
gift of the Spirit, with welcome to the redeemed soul received into His


And observe in this writing that the convert is required to regard the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit especially as a work of _sanctification_.
It is the _holiness_ of God manifested in the giving of His Spirit to
sanctify those who had become His children, which the four angels
celebrate in their ceaseless praise; and it is on account of this
holiness that the heaven and earth are said to be full of His glory.

§ LXVIII. After thus hearing praise rendered to God by the angels for
the salvation of the newly-entered soul, it was thought fittest that the
worshipper should be led to contemplate, in the most comprehensive forms
possible, the past evidence and the future hopes of Christianity, as
summed up in three facts without assurance of which all faith is vain;
namely that Christ died, that He rose again, and that He ascended into
heaven, there to prepare a place for His elect. On the vault between the
first and second cupolas are represented the crucifixion and
resurrection of Christ, with the usual series of intermediate
scenes,--the treason of Judas, the judgment of Pilate, the crowning with
thorns, the descent into Hades, the visit of the women to the sepulchre,
and the apparition to Mary Magdalene. The second cupola itself, which is
the central and principal one of the church, is entirely occupied by the
subject of the Ascension. At the highest point of it Christ is
represented as rising into the blue heaven, borne up by four angels, and
throned upon a rainbow, the type of reconciliation. Beneath him, the
twelve apostles are seen upon the Mount of Olives, with the Madonna,
and, in the midst of them, the two men in white apparel who appeared at
the moment of the Ascension, above whom, as uttered by them, are
inscribed the words, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into
heaven? This Christ, the Son of God, as He is taken from you, shall so
come, the arbiter of the earth, trusted to do judgment and justice."

§ LXIX. Beneath the circle of the apostles, between the windows of the
cupola, are represented the Christian virtues, as sequent upon the
crucifixion of the flesh, and the spiritual ascension together with
Christ. Beneath them, on the vaults which support the angles of the
cupola, are placed the four Evangelists, because on their evidence our
assurance of the fact of the ascension rests; and, finally, beneath
their feet, as symbols of the sweetness and fulness of the Gospel which
they declared, are represented the four rivers of Paradise, Pison,
Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates.

§ LXX. The third cupola, that over the altar, represents the witness of
the Old Testament to Christ; showing him enthroned in its centre, and
surrounded by the patriarchs and prophets. But this dome was little seen
by the people;[38] their contemplation was intended to be chiefly drawn to
that of the centre of the church, and thus the mind of the worshipper was
at once fixed on the main groundwork and hope of Christianity,--"Christ is
risen," and "Christ shall come." If he had time to explore the minor
lateral chapels and cupolas, he could find in them the whole series of
New Testament history, the events of the Life of Christ, and the
Apostolic miracles in their order, and finally the scenery of the Book
of Revelation;[39] but if he only entered, as often the common people do
to this hour, snatching a few moments before beginning the labor of the
day to offer up an ejaculatory prayer, and advanced but from the main
entrance as far as the altar screen, all the splendor of the glittering
nave and variegated dome, if they smote upon his heart, as they might
often, in strange contrast with his reed cabin among the shallows of the
lagoon, smote upon it only that they might proclaim the two great
messages--"Christ is risen," and "Christ shall come." Daily, as the
white cupolas rose like wreaths of sea-foam in the dawn, while the
shadowy campanile and frowning palace were still withdrawn into the
night, they rose with the Easter Voice of Triumph,--"Christ is risen;"
and daily, as they looked down upon the tumult of the people, deepening
and eddying in the wide square that opened from their feet to the sea,
they uttered above them the sentence of warning,--"Christ shall come."

§ LXXXI. And this thought may surely dispose the reader to look with
some change of temper upon the gorgeous building and wild blazonry of
that shrine of St. Mark's. He now perceives that it was in the hearts of
the old Venetian people far more than a place of worship. It was at once
a type of the Redeemed Church of God, and a scroll for the written word
of God. It was to be to them, both an image of the Bride, all glorious
within, her clothing of wrought gold; and the actual Table of the Law
and the Testimony, written within and without. And whether honored as
the Church or as the Bible, was it not fitting that neither the gold nor
the crystal should be spared in the adornment of it; that, as the symbol
of the Bride, the building of the wall thereof should be of jasper,[40]
and the foundations of it garnished with all manner of precious stones;
and that, as the channel of the World, that triumphant utterance of the
Psalmist should be true of it,--"I have rejoiced in the way of thy
testimonies, as much as in all riches?" And shall we not look with
changed temper down the long perspective of St. Mark's Place towards the
sevenfold gates and glowing domes of its temple, when we know with what
solemn purpose the shafts of it were lifted above the pavement of the
populous square? Men met there from all countries of the earth, for
traffic or for pleasure; but, above the crowd swaying for ever to and
fro in the restlessness of avarice or thirst of delight, was seen
perpetually the glory of the temple, attesting to them, whether they
would hear or whether they would forbear, that there was one treasure
which the merchantmen might buy without a price, and one delight better
than all others, in the word and the statutes of God. Not in the
wantonness of wealth, not in vain ministry to the desire of the eyes or
the pride of life, were those marbles hewn into transparent strength,
and those arches arrayed in the colors of the iris. There is a message
written in the dyes of them, that once was written in blood; and a sound
in the echoes of their vaults, that one day shall fill the vault of
heaven,--"He shall return, to do judgment and justice." The strength of
Venice was given her, so long as she remembered this: her destruction
found her when she had forgotten this; and it found her irrevocably,
because she forgot it without excuse. Never had city a more glorious
Bible. Among the nations of the North, a rude and shadowy sculpture
filled their temples with confused and hardly legible imagery; but, for
her, the skill and the treasures of the East had gilded every letter,
and illumined every page, till the Book-Temple shone from afar off like
the star of the Magi. In other cities, the meetings of the people were
often in places withdrawn from religious association, subject to
violence and to change; and on the grass of the dangerous rampart, and
in the dust of the troubled street, there were deeds done and counsels
taken, which, if we cannot justify, we may sometimes forgive. But the
sins of Venice, whether in her palace or in her piazza, were done with
the Bible at her right hand. The walls on which its testimony was
written were separated but by a few inches of marble from those which
guarded the secrets of her councils, or confined the victims of her
policy. And when in her last hours she threw off all shame and all
restraint, and the great square of the city became filled with the
madness of the whole earth, be it remembered how much her sin was
greater, because it was done in the face of the House of God, burning
with the letters of His Law. Mountebank and masquer laughed their laugh,
and went their way; and a silence has followed them, not unforetold; for
amidst them all, through century after century of gathering vanity and
festering guilt, that white dome of St. Mark's had uttered in the dead
ear of Venice, "Know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee
into judgment."


  [19] Acts, xiii. 13; xv. 38, 39.

  [20] The reader who desires to investigate it may consult Galliciolli,
    "Delle Memorie Venete" (Venice, 1795), tom. ii. p. 332, and the
    authorities quoted by him.

  [21] Venice, 1761, tom. i. p. 126.

  [22] St. Mark's Place, "partly covered by turf, and planted with a
    few trees; and on account of its pleasant aspect called Brollo or
    Broglio, that is to say, Garden." The canal passed through it, over
    which is built the bridge of the Malpassi, Galliciolli, lib. i. cap.

  [23] My authorities for this statement are given below, in the chapter
    on the Ducal Palace.

  [24] In the Chronicles, "Sancti Marci Ducalis Cappella."

  [25] "To God the Lord, the glorious Virgin Annunciate, and the
    Protector St. Mark."--_Corner_, p. 14. It is needless to trouble the
    reader with the various authorities for the above statements: I have
    consulted the best. The previous inscription once existing on the
    church itself:

      "Anno milleno transacto bisque trigeno
       Desuper undecimo fuit facta primo,"

    is no longer to be seen, and is conjectured by Corner, with much
    probability, to have perished "in qualche ristauro."

  [26] Signed Bartolomeus Bozza, 1634, 1647, 1656, &c.

  [27] Guida di Venezia, p. 6.

  [28] The mere warmth of St. Mark's in winter, which is much greater
    than that of the other two churches above named, must, however, be
    taken into consideration, as one of the most efficient causes of its
    being then more frequented.

  [29] I said above that the larger number of the devotees entered by
    the "Arabian" porch; the porch, that is to say, on the north side of
    the church, remarkable for its rich Arabian archivolt, and through
    which access is gained immediately to the northern transept. The
    reason is, that in that transept is the chapel of the Madonna, which
    has a greater attraction for the Venetians than all the rest of the
    church besides. The old builders kept their images of the Virgin
    subordinate to those of Christ; but modern Romanism has retrograded
    from theirs, and the most glittering portions of the whole church
    are the two recesses behind this lateral altar, covered with silver
    hearts dedicated to the Virgin.

  [30] Vide "Builder," for October, 1851.

  [31] "Quivi presso si vedi una colonna di tanta bellezza e finezza
    che e riputato _piutosto gioia che pietra_."--_Sansovino_, of the
    verd-antique pillar in San Jacomo dell' Orio. A remarkable piece of
    natural history and moral philosophy, connected with this subject,
    will be found in the second chapter of our third volume, quoted from
    the work of a Florentine architect of the fifteenth century.

  [32] The fact is, that no two tesseræ of the glass are exactly of
    the same tint, the greens being all varied with blues, the blues of
    different depths, the reds of different clearness, so that the
    effect of each mass of color is full of variety, like the stippled
    color of a fruit piece.

  [33] Some illustration, also, of what was said in § XXXIII. above,
    respecting the value of the shafts of St. Mark's as large jewels,
    will be found in Appendix 9, "Shafts of St. Mark's."

  [34] See the farther notice of this subject in Vol. III. Chap. IV.

  [35] I do not mean that modern Christians believe less in the
    _facts_ than ancient Christians, but they do not believe in the
    representation of the facts as true. We look upon the picture as
    this or that painter's conception; the elder Christians looked upon
    it as this or that painter's description of what had actually taken
    place. And in the Greek Church all painting is, to this day,
    strictly a branch of tradition. See M. Dideron's admirably written
    introduction to his Iconographie Chrétienne, p. 7:--"Un de mes
    compagnons s'étonnait de retrouver à la Panagia de St. Luc, le saint
    Jean Chrysostome qu'il avait dessiné dans le baptistère de St. Marc,
    à Venise. Le costume des personnages est partout et en tout temps le
    même, non-seulement pour la forme, mais pour la couleur, mais pour
    le dessin, mais jusque pour le nombre et l'épaisseur des plis."

  [36] All the effects of Byzantine art to represent violent action
    are inadequate, most of them ludicrously so, even when the
    sculptural art is in other respects far advanced. The early Gothic
    sculptors, on the other hand, fail in all points of refinement, but
    hardly ever in expression of action. This distinction is of course
    one of the necessary consequences of the difference in all respects
    between the repose of the Eastern, and activity of the Western,
    mind, which we shall have to trace out completely in the inquiry
    into the nature of Gothic.

  [37] Appendix 10, "Proper Sense of the word Idolatry."

  [38] It is also of inferior workmanship, and perhaps later than the
    rest. Vide Lord Lindsay, vol. i. p. 124, note.

  [39] The old mosaics from the Revelation have perished, and have been
    replaced by miserable work of the seventeenth century.

  [40] Rev. xxi. 18.



§ I. The account of the architecture of St. Mark's given in the previous
chapter has, I trust, acquainted the reader sufficiently with the spirit
of the Byzantine style: but he has probably, as yet, no clear idea of
its generic forms. Nor would it be safe to define these after an
examination of St. Mark's alone, built as it was upon various models,
and at various periods. But if we pass through the city, looking for
buildings which resemble St. Mark's--first, in the most important
feature of incrustation; secondly, in the character of the
mouldings,--we shall find a considerable number, not indeed very
attractive in their first address to the eye, but agreeing perfectly,
both with each other, and with the earliest portions of St. Mark's, in
every important detail; and to be regarded, therefore, with profound
interest, as indeed the remains of an ancient city of Venice, altogether
different in aspect from that which now exists. From these remains we
may with safety deduce general conclusions touching the forms of
Byzantine architecture, as practised in Eastern Italy, during the
eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries.

§ II. They agree in another respect, as well as in style. All are either
ruins, or fragments disguised by restoration. Not one of them is
uninjured or unaltered; and the impossibility of finding so much as an
angle or a single story in perfect condition is a proof, hardly less
convincing than the method of their architecture, that they were indeed
raised during the earliest phases of the Venetian power. The mere
fragments, dispersed in narrow streets, and recognizable by a single
capital, or the segment of an arch, I shall not enumerate: but, of
important remains, there are six in the immediate neighborhood of the
Rialto, one in the Rio di Ca' Foscari, and one conspicuously placed
opposite the great Renaissance Palace known as the Vendramin Calerghi,
one of the few palaces still inhabited[41] and well maintained; and
noticeable, moreover, as having a garden beside it, rich with
evergreens, and decorated by gilded railings and white statues that cast
long streams of snowy reflection down into the deep water. The vista of
canal beyond is terminated by the Church of St. Geremia, another but
less attractive work of the Renaissance; a mass of barren brickwork,
with a dull leaden dome above, like those of our National Gallery. So
that the spectator has the richest and meanest of the late architecture
of Venice before him at once: the richest, let him observe, a piece of
private luxury; the poorest, that which was given to God. Then, looking
to the left, he will see the fragment of the work of earlier ages,
testifying against both, not less by its utter desolation than by the
nobleness of the traces that are still left of it.

§ III. It is a ghastly ruin; whatever is venerable or sad in its wreck
being disguised by attempts to put it to present uses of the basest
kind. It has been composed of arcades borne by marble shafts, and walls
of brick faced with marble: but the covering stones have been torn away
from it like the shroud from a corpse; and its walls, rent into a
thousand chasms, are filled and refilled with fresh brickwork, and the
seams and hollows are choked with clay and whitewash, oozing and
trickling over the marble,--itself blanched into dusty decay by the
frosts of centuries. Soft grass and wandering leafage have rooted
themselves in the rents, but they are not suffered to grow in their own
wild and gentle way, for the place is in a sort inhabited; rotten
partitions are nailed across its corridors, and miserable rooms
contrived in its western wing; and here and there the weeds are
indolently torn down, leaving their haggard fibres to struggle again
into unwholesome growth when the spring next stirs them: and thus, in
contest between death and life, the unsightly heap is festering to its

Of its history little is recorded, and that little futile. That it once
belonged to the dukes of Ferrara, and was bought from them in the
sixteenth century, to be made a general receptacle for the goods of the
Turkish merchants, whence it is now generally known as the Fondaco, or
Fontico, de' Turchi, are facts just as important to the antiquary, as
that, in the year 1852, the municipality of Venice allowed its lower
story to be used for a "deposito di Tabacchi." Neither of this, nor of
any other remains of the period, can we know anything but what their own
stones will tell us.

§ IV. The reader will find in Appendix 11, written chiefly for the
traveller's benefit, an account of the situation and present state of
the other seven Byzantine palaces. Here I shall only give a general
account of the most interesting points in their architecture.

They all agree in being round-arched and incrusted with marble, but
there are only six in which the original disposition of the parts is
anywise traceable; namely, those distinguished in the Appendix as the
Fondaco de' Turchi, Casa Loredan, Caso Farsetti, Rio-Foscari House,
Terraced House, and Madonnetta House:[42] and these six agree farther in
having continuous arcades along their entire fronts from one angle to
the other, and in having their arcades divided, in each case, into a
centre and wings; both by greater size in the midmost arches, and by the
alternation of shafts in the centre, with pilasters, or with small
shafts, at the flanks.

§ V. So far as their structure can be traced, they agree also in having
tall and few arches in their lower stories, and shorter and more
numerous arches above: but it happens most unfortunately that in the
only two cases in which the second stories are left the ground floors
are modernized, and in the others where the sea stories are left the
second stories are modernized; so that we never have more than two
tiers of the Byzantine arches, one above the other. These, however, are
quite enough to show the first main point on which I wish to insist,
namely, the subtlety of the feeling for proportion in the Greek
architects; and I hope that even the general reader will not allow
himself to be frightened by the look of a few measurements, for, if he
will only take the little pains necessary to compare them, he will, I am
almost certain, find the result not devoid of interest.

[Illustration: Fig. IV.]

§ VI. I had intended originally to give elevations of all these palaces;
but have not had time to prepare plates requiring so much labor and
care. I must, therefore, explain the position of their parts in the
simplest way in my power.

The Fondaco de' Turchi has sixteen arches in its sea story, and
twenty-six above them in its first story, the whole based on a
magnificent foundation, built of blocks of red marble, some of them
seven feet long by a foot and a half thick, and raised to a height of
about five feet above high-water mark. At this level, the elevation of
one half of the building, from its flank to the central pillars of its
arcades, is rudely given in Fig. IV., in the previous page. It is only
drawn to show the arrangement of the parts, as the sculptures which are
indicated by the circles and upright oblongs between the arches are too
delicate to be shown in a sketch three times the size of this. The
building once was crowned with an Arabian parapet; but it was taken down
some years since, and I am aware of no authentic representation of its
details. The greater part of the sculptures between the arches,
indicated in the woodcut only by blank circles, have also fallen, or
been removed, but enough remain on the two flanks to justify the
representation given in the diagram of their original arrangement.

And now observe the dimensions. The small arches of the wings in the
ground story, _a_, _a_, _a_, measure, in breadth, from

                                  Ft.  In.
  shaft to shaft                   4    5
  interval _b_                     7    6½
  interval _c_                     7   11
  intervals _d_, _e_, _f_, &c.     8    1

The difference between the width of the arches _b_ and _c_ is
necessitated by the small recess of the cornice on the left hand as
compared with that of the great capitals; but this sudden difference of
half a foot between the two extreme arches of the centre offended the
builder's eye, so he diminished the next one, _unnecessarily_, two
inches, and thus obtained the gradual cadence to the flanks, from eight
feet down to four and a half, in a series of continually increasing
steps. Of course the effect cannot be shown in the diagram, as the first
difference is less than the thickness of its lines. In the upper story
the capitals are all nearly of the same height, and there was no
occasion for the difference between the extreme arches. Its twenty-six
arches are placed, four small ones above each lateral three of the lower
arcade, and eighteen larger above the central ten; thus throwing the
shafts into all manner of relative positions, and completely confusing
the eye in any effort to count them: but there is an exquisite symmetry
running through their apparent confusion; for it will be seen that the
four arches in each flank are arranged in two groups, of which one has a
large single shaft in the centre, and the other a pilaster and two small
shafts. The way in which the large shaft is used as an echo of those in
the central arcade, dovetailing them, as it were, into the system of the
pilasters,--just as a great painter, passing from one tone of color to
another, repeats, over a small space, that which he has left,--is highly
characteristic of the Byzantine care in composition. There are other
evidences of it in the arrangement of the capitals, which will be
noticed below in the seventh chapter. The lateral arches of this upper
arcade measure 3 ft. 2 in. across, and the central 3 ft. 11 in., so that
the arches in the building are altogether of six magnitudes.

§ VII. Next let us take the Casa Loredan. The mode of arrangement of its
pillars is precisely like that of the Fondaco de' Turchi, so that I
shall merely indicate them by vertical lines in order to be able to
letter the intervals. It has five arches in the centre of the lower
story, and two in each of its wings.


                                                      Ft.  In.
  The midmost interval, _a_, of the central five, is   6    1
  The two on each side, _b_, _b_                       5    2
  The two extremes, _c_, _c_                           4    9
  Inner arches of the wings, _d_, _d_                  4    4
  Outer arches of the wings, _e_, _e_                  4    6

The gradation of these dimensions is visible at a glance; the boldest
step being here taken nearest the centre, while in the Fondaco it is
farthest from the centre. The first loss here is of eleven inches, the
second of five, the third of five, and then there is a most subtle
increase of two inches in the extreme arches, as if to contradict the
principle of diminution, and stop the falling away of the building by
firm resistance at its flanks.

I could not get the measures of the upper story accurately, the palace
having been closed all the time I was in Venice; but it has seven
central arches above the five below, and three at the flanks above the
two below, the groups being separated by double shafts.

§ VIII. Again, in the Casa Farsetti, the lower story has a centre of
five arches, and wings of two. Referring, therefore, to the last figure,
which will answer for this palace also, the measures of the intervals

                                  Ft.  In.
  _a_                              8    0
  _b_                              5   10
  _c_                              5    4
  _d_ and _e_                      5    3

It is, however, possible that the interval _c_ and the wing arches may
have been intended to be similar; for one of the wing arches measures 5
ft. 4 in. We have thus a simpler proportion than any we have hitherto
met with; only two losses taking place, the first of 2 ft. 2 in., the
second of 6 inches.

The upper story has a central group of seven arches, whose widths are 4
ft. 1 in.

                                  Ft.  In.
  The next arch on each side       3    5
  The three arches of each wing    3    6

Here again we have a most curious instance of the subtlety of eye which
was not satisfied without a third dimension, but _could_ be satisfied
with a difference of an inch on three feet and a half.

§ IX. In the Terraced House, the ground floor is modernized, but the
first story is composed of a centre of five arches, with wings of two,
measuring as follows:

                                             Ft.  In.
  Three midmost arches of the central group   4    0
  Outermost arch of the central group         4    6
  Innermost arch of the wing                  4   10
  Outermost arch of the wing[43]              5    0

Here the greatest step is towards the centre; but the increase, which is
unusual, is towards the outside, the gain being successively six, four,
and two inches.

I could not obtain the measures of the second story, in which only the
central group is left; but the two outermost arches are visibly larger
than the others, thus beginning a correspondent proportion to the one
below, of which the lateral quantities have been destroyed by

§ X. Finally, in the Rio-Foscari House, the central arch is the
principal feature, and the four lateral ones form one magnificent wing;
the dimensions being from the centre to the side:

                                  Ft.  In.
  Central arch                     9    9
  Second   "                       3    8
  Third    "                       3   10
  Fourth   "                       3   10
  Fifth    "                       3    8

The difference of two inches on nearly three feet in the two midmost
arches being all that was necessary to satisfy the builder's eye.

§ XI. I need not point out to the reader that these singular and minute
harmonies of proportion indicate, beyond all dispute, not only that the
buildings in which they are found are of one school, but (so far as
these subtle coincidences of measurement can still be traced in them) in
their original form. No modern builder has any idea of connecting his
arches in this manner, and restorations in Venice are carried on with
too violent hands to admit of the supposition that such refinements
would be even noticed in the progress of demolition, much less imitated
in heedless reproduction. And as if to direct our attention especially
to this character, as indicative of Byzantine workmanship, the most
interesting example of all will be found in the arches of the front of
St. Mark's itself, whose proportions I have not noticed before, in order
that they might here be compared with those of the contemporary palaces.

[Illustration: Fig. V.]

§ XII. The doors actually employed for entrance in the western façade
are as usual five, arranged as at _a_ in the annexed woodcut, Fig. V.;
but the Byzantine builder could not be satisfied with so simple a group,
and he introduced, therefore, two minor arches at the extremities, as at
_b_, by adding two small porticos which are of _no use whatever_ except
to consummate the proportions of the façade, and themselves to exhibit
the most exquisite proportions in arrangements of shaft and archivolt
with which I am acquainted in the entire range of European architecture.

Into these minor particulars I cannot here enter; but observe the
dimensions of the range of arches in the façade, as thus completed by
the flanking porticos:

                                                Ft.  In.
  The space of its central archivolt is         31    8
        "     the two on each side, about[44]   19    8
        "     the two succeeding, about         20    4
        "     small arches at flanks, about      6    0

[Illustration: Fig. VI.]

I need not make any comment upon the subtle difference of eight inches
on twenty feet between the second and third dimensions. If the reader
will be at the pains to compare the whole evidence now laid before him,
with that deduced above from the apse of Murano, he cannot but confess
that it amounts to an irrefragable proof of an intense perception of
harmony in the relation of quantities, on the part of the Byzantine
architects; a perception which we have at present lost so utterly as
hardly to be able even to conceive it. And let it not be said, as it was
of the late discoveries of subtle curvature in the Parthenon,[45] that
what is not to be demonstrated without laborious measurement, cannot
have influence on the beauty of the design. The eye is continually
influenced by what it cannot detect; nay, it is not going too far to
say, that it is most influenced by what it detects least. Let the
painter define, if he can, the variations of lines on which depend the
changes of expression in the human countenance. The greater he is, the
more he will feel their subtlety, and the intense difficulty of
perceiving all their relations, or answering for the consequences of a
variation of a hair's breadth in a single curve. Indeed, there is
nothing truly noble either in color or in form, but its power depends on
circumstances infinitely too intricate to be explained, and almost too
subtle to be traced. And as for these Byzantine buildings, we only do
not feel them because we do not _watch_ them; otherwise we should as
much enjoy the variety of proportion in their arches, as we do at
present that of the natural architecture of flowers and leaves. Any of
us can feel in an instant the grace of the leaf group, _b_, in the
annexed figure; and yet that grace is simply owing to its being
proportioned like the façade of St. Mark's; each leaflet answering to an
arch,--the smallest at the root, to those of the porticos. I have tried
to give the proportion quite accurately in _b_; but as the difference
between the second and third leaflets is hardly discernible on so small
a scale, it is somewhat exaggerated in _a_.[46] Nature is often far more
subtle in her proportions. In looking at some of the nobler species of
lilies, full in the front of the flower, we may fancy for a moment that
they form a symmetrical six-petaled star; but on examining them more
closely, we shall find that they are thrown into a group of three
magnitudes by the expansion of two of the inner petals above the stamens
to a breadth greater than any of the four others; while the third inner
petal, on which the stamens rest, contracts itself into the narrowest of
the six, and the three under petals remain of one intermediate
magnitude, as seen in the annexed figure.

[Illustration: Fig. VII.]

§ XIII. I must not, however, weary the reader with this subject, which
has always been a favorite one with me, and is apt to lead too far; we
will return to the palaces on the Grand Canal. Admitting, then, that
their fragments are proved, by the minute correspondences of their
arrangement, to be still in their original positions, they indicate to
us a form, whether of palace or dwelling-house, in which there were,
universally, central galleries, or loggias, opening into apartments on
each wing, the amount of light admitted being immense; and the general
proportions of the building, slender, light, and graceful in the utmost
degree, it being in fact little more than an aggregate of shafts and
arches. Of the interior disposition of these palaces there is in no
instance the slightest trace left, nor am I well enough acquainted with
the existing architecture of the East to risk any conjecture on this
subject. I pursue the statement of the facts which still are
ascertainable respecting their external forms.

§ XIV. In every one of the buildings above mentioned, except the
Rio-Foscari House (which has only one great entrance between its wings),
the central arcades are sustained, at least in one story, and generally
in both, on bold detached cylindrical shafts, with rich capitals, while
the arches of the wings are carried on smaller shafts assisted by
portions of wall, which become pilasters of greater or less width.

And now I must remind the reader of what was pointed out above (Vol. I.
Chap. XXVII. §§ III. XXXV. XL.), that there are two great orders of
capitals in the world; that one of these is convex in its contour, the
other concave; and that richness of ornament, with all freedom of fancy,
is for the most part found in the one, and severity of ornament, with
stern discipline of the fancy, in the other.

Of these two families of capitals both occur in the Byzantine period,
but the concave group is the longest-lived, and extends itself into the
Gothic times. In the account which I gave of them in the first volume,
they were illustrated by giving two portions of a simple curve, that of
a salvia leaf. We must now investigate their characters more in detail;
and these may be best generally represented by considering both families
as formed upon the types of flowers,--the one upon that of the
water-lily, the other upon that of the convolvulus. There was no
intention in the Byzantine architects to imitate either one or the other
of these flowers; but, as I have already so often repeated, all
beautiful works of art must either intentionally imitate or accidentally
resemble natural forms; and the direct comparison with the natural forms
which these capitals most resemble, is the likeliest mode of fixing
their distinctions in the reader's mind.

The one then, the convex family, is modelled according to the commonest
shapes of that great group of flowers which form rounded cups, like that
of the water-lily, the leaves springing horizontally from the stalk, and
closing together upwards. The rose is of this family, but her cup is
filled with the luxuriance of her leaves; the crocus, campanula,
ranunculus, anemone, and almost all the loveliest children of the field,
are formed upon the same type.

The other family resembles the convolvulus, trumpet-flower, and such
others, in which the lower part of the bell is slender, and the lip
curves outwards at the top. There are fewer flowers constructed on this
than on the convex model; but in the organization of trees and of
clusters of herbage it is seen continually. Of course, both of these
conditions are modified, when applied to capitals, by the enormously
greater thickness of the stalk or shaft, but in other respects the
parallelism is close and accurate; and the reader had better at once fix
the flower outlines in his mind,[47] and remember them as representing
the only two orders of capitals that the world has ever seen, or can

§ XV. The examples of the concave family in the Byzantine times are
found principally either in large capitals founded on the Greek
Corinthian, used chiefly for the nave pillars of churches, or in the
small lateral shafts of the palaces. It appears somewhat singular that
the pure Corinthian form should have been reserved almost exclusively
for nave pillars, as at Torcello, Murano, and St. Mark's; it occurs,
indeed, together with almost every other form, on the exterior of St.
Mark's also, but never so definitely as in the nave and transept shafts.
Of the conditions assumed by it at Torcello enough has been said; and
one of the most delicate of the varieties occurring in St. Mark's is
given in Plate VIII., fig. 15, remarkable for the cutting of the sharp
thistle-like leaves into open relief, so that the light sometimes shines
through them from behind, and for the beautiful curling of the
extremities of the leaves outwards, joining each other at the top, as in
an undivided flower.

§ XVI. The other characteristic examples of the concave groups in the
Byzantine times are as simple as those resulting from the Corinthian are
rich. They occur on the _small_ shafts at the flanks of the Fondaco de'
Turchi, the Casa Farsetti, Casa Loredan, Terraced House, and upper
story of the Madonnetta House, in forms so exactly similar that the two
figures 1 and 2 in Plate VIII. may sufficiently represent them all. They
consist merely of portions cut out of the plinths or string-courses
which run along all the faces of these palaces, by four truncations in
the form of arrowy leaves (fig. 1, Fondaco de' Turchi), and the whole
rounded a little at the bottom so as to fit the shaft. When they occur
between two arches they assume the form of the group fig. 2 (Terraced
House). Fig. 3 is from the central arches of the Casa Farsetti, and is
only given because either it is a later restoration or a form absolutely
unique in the Byzantine period.

[Illustration: Plate VII.

§ XVII. The concave group, however, was not naturally pleasing to the
Byzantine mind. Its own favorite capital was of the bold convex or
cushion shape, so conspicuous in all the buildings of the period that I
have devoted Plate VII., opposite, entirely to its illustration. The
form in which it is first used is practically obtained from a square
block laid on the head of the shaft (fig. 1, Plate VII.), by first
cutting off the lower corners, as in fig. 2, and then rounding the
edges, as in fig. 3; this gives us the bell stone: on this is laid a
simple abacus, as seen in fig. 4, which is the actual form used in the
upper arcade of Murano, and the framework of the capital is complete.
Fig. 5 shows the general manner and effect of its decoration on the same
scale; the other figures, 6 and 7, both from the apse of Murano, 8, from
the Terraced House, and 9, from the Baptistery of St. Mark's, show the
method of chiselling the surfaces in capitals of average richness, such
as occur everywhere, for there is no limit to the fantasy and beauty of
the more elaborate examples.

§ XVIII. In consequence of the peculiar affection entertained for these
massy forms by the Byzantines, they were apt, when they used any
condition of capital founded on the Corinthian, to modify the concave
profile by making it bulge out at the bottom. Fig. 1, _a_, Plate X., is
the profile of a capital of the pure concave family; and observe, it
needs a fillet or cord round the neck of the capital to show where it
separates from the shaft. Fig. 4, _a_, on the other hand, is the
profile of the pure convex group, which not only needs no such
projecting fillet, but would be encumbered by it; while fig. 2, _a_, is
the profile of one of the Byzantine capitals (Fondaco de' Turchi, lower
arcade) founded on Corinthian, of which the main sweep is concave, but
which bends below into the convex bell-shape, where it joins the shaft.
And, lastly, fig. 3, _a_, is the profile of the nave shafts of St.
Mark's, where, though very delicately granted, the concession to the
Byzantine temper is twofold; first at the spring of the curve from the
base, and secondly the top, where it again becomes convex, though the
expression of the Corinthian bell is still given to it by the bold
concave leaves.

§ XIX. These, then, being the general modifications of Byzantine
profiles, I have thrown together in Plate VIII., opposite, some of the
most characteristic examples of the decoration of the concave and
transitional types; their localities are given in the note below,[48]
and the following are the principal points to be observed respecting

The purest concave forms, 1 and 2, were never decorated in the earliest
times, except sometimes by an incision or rib down the centre of their
truncations on the angles.

[Illustration: Plate VIII.

Figures 4, 5, 6, and 7 show some of the modes of application of a
peculiarly broad-lobed acanthus leaf, very characteristic of native
Venetian work; 4 and 5 are from the same building, two out of a group of
four, and show the boldness of the variety admitted in the management
even of the capitals most closely derived from the Corinthian. I never
saw one of these Venetian capitals in all respects like another. The
trefoils into which the leaves fall at the extremities are, however, for
the most part similar, though variously disposed, and generally niche
themselves one under the other, as very characteristically in fig. 7.
The form 8 occurs in St. Mark's only, and there very frequently: 9 at
Venice occurs, I think, in St. Mark's only; but it is a favorite early
Lombardic form. 10, 11, and 12 are all highly characteristic. 10 occurs
with more fantastic interweaving upon its sides in the upper stories of
St. Mark's; 11 is derived, in the Casa Loredan, from the great lily
capitals of St. Mark's, of which more presently. 13 and 15 are peculiar
to St. Mark's. 14 is a lovely condition, occurring both there and in the
Fondaco de' Turchi.

The modes in which the separate portions of the leaves are executed in
these and other Byzantine capitals, will be noticed more at length
hereafter. Here I only wish the reader to observe two things, both with
respect to these and the capitals of the convex family on the former
Plate: first the Life, secondly, the Breadth, of these capitals, as
compared with Greek forms.

§ XX. I say, first, the Life. Not only is every one of these capitals
differently fancied, but there are many of them which _have no two sides
alike_. Fig. 5, for instance, varies on every side in the arrangement of
the pendent leaf in its centre; fig. 6 has a different plant on each of
its four upper angles. The birds are each cut with a different play of
plumage in figs. 9 and 12, and the vine-leaves are every one varied in
their position in fig. 13. But this is not all. The differences in the
character of ornamentation between them and the Greek capitals, all show
a greater love of nature; the leaves are, every one of them, more
founded on realities, sketched, however rudely, more directly from the
truth; and are continually treated in a manner which shows the mind of
the workman to have been among the living herbage, not among Greek
precedents. The hard outlines in which, for the sake of perfect
intelligibility, I have left this Plate, have deprived the examples of
the vitality of their light and shade; but the reader can nevertheless
observe the _ideas_ of life occurring perpetually: at the top of fig.
4, for instance, the small leaves turned sideways; in fig. 5, the formal
volutes of the old Corinthian transformed into a branching tendril; in
fig. 6, the bunch of grapes thrown carelessly in at the right-hand
corner, in defiance of all symmetry; in fig. 7, the volutes knitted into
wreaths of ivy; in fig. 14, the leaves, drifted, as it were, by a
whirlwind round the capital by which they rise; while figs. 13 and 15
are as completely living leaves as any of the Gothic time. These designs
may or may not be graceful; what grace or beauty they have is not to be
rendered in mere outline,--but they are indisputably more _natural_ than
any Greek ones, and therefore healthier, and tending to greatness.

§ XXI. In the second place, note in all these examples, the excessive
breadth of the masses, however afterwards they may be filled with
detail. Whether we examine the contour of the simpler convex bells, or
those of the leaves which bend outwards from the richer and more
Corinthian types, we find they are all outlined by grand and simple
curves, and that the whole of their minute fretwork and thistle-work is
cast into a gigantic mould which subdues all their multitudinous points
and foldings to its own inevitable dominion. And the fact is, that in
the sweeping lines and broad surfaces of these Byzantine sculptures we
obtain, so far as I know, for the first time in the history of art, the
germ of that unity of perfect ease in every separate part, with perfect
subjection to an enclosing form or directing impulse, which was brought
to its most intense expression in the compositions of the two men in
whom the art of Italy consummated itself and expired--Tintoret and
Michael Angelo.

I would not attach too much importance to the mere habit of working on
the rounded surface of the stone, which is often as much the result of
haste or rudeness as of the desire for breadth, though the result
obtained is not the less beautiful. But in the capital from the Fondaco
de' Turchi, fig. 6, it will be seen that while the sculptor had taken
the utmost care to make his leaves free, graceful, and sharp in effect,
he was dissatisfied with their separation, and could not rest until he
had enclosed them with an unbroken line, like that of a pointed arch;
and the same thing is done in many different ways in other capitals of
the same building, and in many of St. Mark's: but one such instance
would have been enough to prove, if the loveliness of the profiles
themselves did not do so, that the sculptor understood and loved the
laws of generalization; and that the feeling which bound his prickly
leaves, as they waved or drifted round the ridges of his capital, into
those broad masses of unbroken flow, was indeed one with that which made
Michael Angelo encompass the principal figure in his Creation of Adam
with the broad curve of its cloudy drapery. It may seem strange to
assert any connexion between so great a conception and these rudely hewn
fragments of ruined marble; but all the highest principles of art are as
universal as they are majestic, and there is nothing too small to
receive their influence. They rule at once the waves of the mountain
outline, and the sinuosities of the minutest lichen that stains its
shattered stones.

§ XXII. We have not yet spoken of the three braided and chequered
capitals, numbered 10, 11, and 12. They are representations of a group,
with which many most interesting associations are connected. It was
noticed in the last chapter, that the method of covering the exterior of
buildings with thin pieces of marble was likely to lead to a system of
lighting the interior by minute perforation. In order to obtain both
light and air, without admitting any unbroken body of sunshine, in warm
countries, it became a constant habit of the Arabian architects to
pierce minute and starlike openings in slabs of stone; and to employ the
stones so pierced where the Gothic architects employ traceries.
Internally, the form of stars assumed by the light as it entered[49]
was, in itself, an exquisite decoration; but, externally, it was felt
necessary to add some slight ornament upon the surface of the perforated
stone; and it was soon found that, as the small perforations had a
tendency to look scattered and spotty, the most effective treatment of
the intermediate surfaces would be one which bound them together, and
gave unity and repose to the pierced and disturbed stone: universally,
therefore, those intermediate spaces were carved into the semblance of
interwoven fillets, which alternately sank beneath and rose above each
other as they met. This system of braided or woven ornament was not
confined to the Arabs; it is universally pleasing to the instinct of
mankind. I believe that nearly all early ornamentation is full of
it,--more especially, perhaps, Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon; and
illuminated manuscripts depend upon it for their loveliest effects of
intricate color, up to the close of the thirteenth century. There are
several very interesting metaphysical reasons for this strange and
unfailing delight, felt in a thing so simple. It is not often that any
idea of utility has power to enhance the true impressions of beauty; but
it is possible that the enormous importance of the art of weaving to
mankind may give some interest, if not actual attractiveness, to any
type or image of the invention to which we owe, at once, our comfort and
our pride. But the more profound reason lies in the innate love of
mystery and unity; in the joy that the human mind has in contemplating
any kind of maze or entanglement, so long as it can discern, through its
confusion, any guiding clue or connecting plan: a pleasure increased and
solemnized by some dim feeling of the setting forth, by such symbols, of
the intricacy, and alternate rise and fall, subjection and supremacy, of
human fortune; the

  "Weave the warp, and weave the woof,"

of Fate and Time.

[Illustration: Plate IX.
               LILY CAPITAL OF ST. MARKS.]

§ XXIII. But be this as it may, the fact is that we are never tired of
contemplating this woven involution; and that, in some degree, the
sublime pleasure which we have in watching the branches of trees, the
intertwining of the grass, and the tracery of the higher clouds, is
owing to it, not less than that which we receive from the fine meshes of
the robe, the braiding of the hair, and the various glittering of the
linked net or wreathed chain. Byzantine ornamentation, like that of
almost all nations in a state of progress, is full of this kind of work:
but it occurs most conspicuously, though most simply, in the minute
traceries which surround their most solid capitals; sometimes merely in
a reticulated veil, as in the tenth figure in the Plate, sometimes
resembling a basket, on the edges of which are perched birds and other
animals. The diamonded ornament in the eleventh figure is substituted
for it in the Casa Loredan, and marks a somewhat later time and a
tendency to the ordinary Gothic chequer; but the capitals which show it
most definitely are those already so often spoken of as the lily
capitals of St. Mark's, of which the northern one is carefully drawn in
Plate IX.

[Illustration: Plate X.

§ XXIV. These capitals, called barbarous by our architects, are without
exception the most subtle pieces of composition in broad contour which I
have ever met with in architecture. Their profile is given in the
opposite Plate X. fig. 3, _b_; the inner line in the figure being that
of the stone behind the lily, the outer that of the external network,
taken through the side of the capital; while fig. 3, _c_ is the outer
profile at its angle; and the reader will easily understand that the
passing of the one of these lines into the other is productive of the
most exquisite and wonderful series of curvatures possible within such
compass, no two views of the capital giving the same contour. Upon these
profoundly studied outlines, as remarkable for their grace and
complexity as the general mass of the capital is for solid strength and
proportion to its necessary service, the braided work is wrought with
more than usual care; perhaps, as suggested by the Marchese Selvatico,
with some idea of imitating those "nets of chequerwork and wreaths of
chainwork" on the chapiters of Solomon's temple, which are, I suppose,
the first instances on record of an ornamentation of this kind thus
applied. The braided work encloses on each of the four sides of the
capital a flower whose form, derived from that of the lily, though as
usual modified, in every instance of its occurrence, in some minor
particulars, is generally seen as represented in fig. 11 of Plate VIII.
It is never without the two square or oblong objects at the extremity of
the tendrils issuing from its root, set like vessels to catch the dew
from the points of its leaves; but I do not understand their meaning.
The abacus of the capital has already been given at _a_, Plate XVI.,
Vol. I.; but no amount of illustrations or eulogium would be enough to
make the reader understand the perfect beauty of the thing itself, as
the sun steals from interstice to interstice of its marble veil, and
touches with the white lustre of its rays at mid-day the pointed leaves
of its thirsty lilies.

In all the capitals hitherto spoken of, the form of the head of the bell
has been square, and its varieties of outline have been obtained in the
transition from the square of the abacus to the circular outline of the
shafts. A far more complex series of forms results from the division of
the bell by recesses into separate lobes or leaves, like those of a rose
or tulip, which are each in their turn covered with flower-work or
hollowed into reticulation. The example (fig. 10, Plate VII.) from St.
Mark's will give some idea of the simplest of these conditions: perhaps
the most exquisite in Venice, on the whole, is the central capital of
the upper arcade of the Fondaco de' Turchi.

Such are the principal generic conditions of the Byzantine capital; but
the reader must always remember that the examples given are single
instances, and those not the most beautiful but the most intelligible,
chosen out of thousands: the designs of the capitals of St. Mark's alone
would form a volume.

[Illustration: Plate XI.
               BYZANTINE SCULPTURE.]

§ XXV. Of the archivolts which these capitals generally sustain, details
are given in the Appendix and in the notice of Venetian doors in Chapter
VII. In the private palaces, the ranges of archivolt are for the most
part very simple, with dentilled mouldings; and all the ornamental
effect is entrusted to pieces of sculpture set in the wall above or
between the arches, in the manner shown in Plate XV., below, Chapter
VII. These pieces of sculpture are either crosses, upright oblongs, or
circles: of all the three forms an example is given in Plate XI.
opposite. The cross was apparently an invariable ornament, placed either
in the centre of the archivolt of the doorway, or in the centre of the
first story above the windows; on each side of it the circular and
oblong ornaments were used in various alternation. In too many instances
the wall marbles have been torn away from the earliest Byzantine
palaces, so that the crosses are left on their archivolts only. The best
examples of the cross set above the windows are found in houses of the
transitional period: one in the Campo St^a M. Formosa; another, in which
a cross is placed between every window, is still well preserved in the
Campo St^a Maria Mater Domini; another, on the Grand Canal, in the
parish of the Apostoli, has two crosses, one on each side of the first
story, and a bas-relief of Christ enthroned in the centre; and finally,
that from which the larger cross in the Plate was taken in the house
once belonging to Marco Polo, at San Giovanni Grisostomo.

§ XXVI. This cross, though graceful and rich, and given because it
happens to be one of the best preserved, is uncharacteristic in one
respect; for, instead of the central rose at the meeting of the arms, we
usually find a hand raised in the attitude of blessing, between the sun
and moon, as in the two smaller crosses seen in the Plate. In nearly all
representations of the Crucifixion, over the whole of Europe, at the
period in question, the sun and the moon are introduced, one on each
side of the cross,--the sun generally, in paintings, as a red star; but
I do not think with any purpose of indicating the darkness at the time
of the agony; especially because, had this been the intention, the moon
ought not to have been visible, since it could not have been in the
heavens during the day at the time of passover. I believe rather that
the two luminaries are set there in order to express the entire
dependence of the heavens and the earth upon the work of the Redemption:
and this view is confirmed by our frequently finding the sun and moon
set in the same manner beside the figure of Christ, as in the centre of
the great archivolt of St. Mark's, or beside the hand signifying
benediction, without any cross, in some other early archivolts;[50]
while, again, not unfrequently they are absent from the symbol of the
cross itself, and its saving power over the whole of creation is
indicated only by fresh leaves springing from its foot, or doves feeding
beside it; and so also, in illuminated Bibles, we find the series of
pictures representing the Creation terminate in the Crucifixion, as the
work by which all the families of created beings subsist, no less than
that in sympathy with which "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth
in pain together until now."

§ XXVII. This habit of placing the symbol of the Christian faith in the
centres of their palaces was, as I above said, universal in early
Venice; it does not cease till about the middle of the fourteenth
century. The other sculptures, which were set above or between the
arches, consist almost invariably of groups of birds or beasts; either
standing opposite to each other with a small pillar or spray of leafage
between them, or else tearing and devouring each other. The multitude of
these sculptures, especially of the small ones enclosed in circles, as
figs 5 and 6, Plate XI., which are now scattered through the city of
Venice, is enormous, but they are seldom to be seen in their original
positions. When the Byzantine palaces were destroyed, these fragments
were generally preserved, and inserted again in the walls of the new
buildings, with more or less attempt at symmetry; fragments of friezes
and mouldings being often used in the same manner; so that the mode of
their original employment can only be seen in St. Mark's, the Fondaco
de' Turchi, Braided House, and one or two others. The most remarkable
point about them is, that the groups of beasts or birds on each side of
the small pillars bear the closest possible resemblance to the group of
Lions over the gate of Mycenæ; and the whole of the ornamentation of
that gate, as far as I can judge of it from drawings, is so like
Byzantine sculpture, that I cannot help sometimes suspecting the
original conjecture of the French antiquarians, that it was a work of
the middle ages, to be not altogether indefensible. By far the best
among the sculptures at Venice are those consisting of groups thus
arranged; the first figure in Plate XI. is one of those used on St.
Mark's, and, with its chain of wreathen work round it, is very
characteristic of the finest kind, except that the immediate trunk or
pillar often branches into luxuriant leafage, usually of the vine, so
that the whole ornament seems almost composed from the words of Ezekiel.
"A great eagle with great wings, long-winged, full of feathers, which
had divers colors, came into Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the
cedar: He cropped off the top of his young twigs; and _carried it into a
city of traffic; he set it in a city of merchants_. He took also of the
seed of the land, ... and it grew, and became a spreading vine of low
stature, _whose branches turned towards him, and the roots thereof were
under him_."

§ XXVIII. The groups of contending and devouring animals are always much
ruder in cutting, and take somewhat the place in Byzantine sculpture
which the lower grotesques do in the Gothic; true, though clumsy,
grotesques being sometimes mingled among them, as four bodies joined to
one head in the centre;[51] but never showing any attempt at variety of
invention, except only in the effective disposition of the light and
shade, and in the vigor and thoughtfulness of the touches which indicate
the plumes of the birds or foldings of the leaves. Care, however, is
always taken to secure variety enough to keep the eye entertained, no
two sides of these Byzantine ornaments being in all respects the same:
for instance, in the chainwork round the first figure in Plate XI. there
are two circles enclosing squares on the left-hand side of the arch at
the top, but two smaller circles and a diamond on the other, enclosing
one square, and two small circular spots or bosses; and in the line of
chain at the bottom there is a circle on the right, and a diamond on the
left, and so down to the working of the smallest details. I have
represented this upper sculpture as dark, in order to give some idea of
the general effect of these ornaments when seen in shadow against light;
an effect much calculated upon by the designer, and obtained by the use
of a golden ground formed of glass mosaic inserted in the hollows of the
marble. Each square of glass has the leaf gold upon its surface
protected by another thin film of glass above it, so that no time or
weather can affect its lustre, until the pieces of glass are bodily torn
from their setting. The smooth glazed surface of the golden ground is
washed by every shower of rain, but the marble usually darkens into an
amber color in process of time; and when the whole ornament is cast into
shadow, the golden surface, being perfectly reflective, refuses the
darkness, and shows itself in bright and burnished light behind the dark
traceries of the ornament. Where the marble has retained its perfect
whiteness, on the other hand, and is seen in sunshine, it is shown as a
snowy tracery on a golden ground; and the alternations and intermingling
of these two effects form one of the chief enchantments of Byzantine

§ XXIX. How far the system of grounding with gold and color, universal
in St. Mark's, was carried out in the sculptures of the private palaces,
it is now impossible to say. The wrecks of them which remain, as above
noticed, show few of their ornamental sculptures in their original
position; and from those marbles which were employed in succeeding
buildings, during the Gothic period, the fragments of their mosaic
grounds would naturally rather have been removed than restored. Mosaic,
while the most secure of all decorations if carefully watched and
refastened when it loosens, may, if neglected and exposed to weather, in
process of time disappear so as to leave no vestige of its existence.
However this may have been, the assured facts are, that both the shafts
of the pillars and the facing of the old building were of veined or
variously colored marble: the capitals and sculptures were either, as
they now appear, of pure white marble, relieved upon the veined ground;
or, which is infinitely the more probable, grounded in the richer
palaces with mosaic of gold, in the inferior ones with blue color; and
only the leaves and edges of the sculpture gilded. These brighter hues
were opposed by bands of deeper color, generally alternate russet and
green, in the archivolts,--bands which still remain in the Casa Loredan
and Fondaco de' Turchi, and in a house in the Corte del Remer, near the
Rialto, as well as in St. Mark's; and by circular disks of green
serpentine and porphyry, which, together with the circular sculptures,
appear to have been an ornament peculiarly grateful to the Eastern mind,
derived probably in the first instance from the suspension of shields
upon the wall, as in the majesty of ancient Tyre. "The men of Arvad with
thine army were upon thy walls round about, and the Gammadins were in
thy towers: they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they
have made thy beauty perfect."[52] The sweet and solemn harmony of
purple with various green (the same, by the by, to which the hills of
Scotland owe their best loveliness) remained a favorite chord of color
with the Venetians, and was constantly used even in the later palaces;
but never could have been seen in so great perfection as when opposed to
the pale and delicate sculpture of the Byzantine time.

§ XXX. Such, then, was that first and fairest Venice which rose out of
the barrenness of the lagoon, and the sorrow of her people; a city of
graceful arcades and gleaming walls, veined with azure and warm with
gold, and fretted with white sculpture like frost upon forest branches
turned to marble. And yet, in this beauty of her youth, she was no city
of thoughtless pleasure. There was still a sadness of heart upon her,
and a depth of devotion, in which lay all her strength. I do not insist
upon the probable religious signification of many of the sculptures
which are now difficult of interpretation; but the temper which made the
cross the principal ornament of every building is not to be
misunderstood, nor can we fail to perceive, in many of the minor
sculptural subjects, meanings perfectly familiar to the mind of early
Christianity. The peacock, used in preference to every other bird, is
the well-known symbol of the resurrection; and when drinking from a
fountain (Plate XI. fig. 1) or from a font (Plate XI. fig. 5), is, I
doubt not, also a type of the new life received in faithful baptism. The
vine, used in preference to all other trees, was equally recognized as,
in all cases, a type either of Christ himself[53] or of those who were
in a state of visible or professed union with him. The dove, at its
foot, represents the coming of the Comforter; and even the groups of
contending animals had, probably, a distinct and universally apprehended
reference to the powers of evil. But I lay no stress on these more
occult meanings. The principal circumstance which marks the seriousness
of the early Venetian mind is perhaps the last in which the reader would
suppose it was traceable;--that love of bright and pure color which, in
a modified form, was afterwards the root of all the triumph of the
Venetian schools of painting, but which, in its utmost simplicity, was
characteristic of the Byzantine period only; and of which, therefore, in
the close of our review of that period, it will be well that we should
truly estimate the significance. The fact is, we none of us enough
appreciate the nobleness and sacredness of color. Nothing is more common
than to hear it spoken of as a subordinate beauty,--nay, even as the
mere source of a sensual pleasure; and we might almost believe that we
were daily among men who

  "Could strip, for aught the prospect yields
   To them, their verdure from the fields;
   And take the radiance from the clouds
   With which the sun his setting shrouds."

But it is not so. Such expressions are used for the most part in
thoughtlessness; and if the speakers would only take the pains to
imagine what the world and their own existence would become, if the blue
were taken from the sky, and the gold from the sunshine, and the verdure
from the leaves, and the crimson from the blood which is the life of
man, the flush from the cheek, the darkness from the eye, the radiance
from the hair,--if they could but see for an instant, white human
creatures living in a white world,--they would soon feel what they owe
to color. The fact is, that, of all God's gifts to the sight of man,
color is the holiest, the most divine, the most solemn. We speak rashly
of gay color, and sad color, for color cannot at once be good and gay.
All good color is in some degree pensive, the loveliest is melancholy,
and the purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the

§ XXXI. I know that this will sound strange in many ears, and will be
especially startling to those who have considered the subject chiefly
with reference to painting; for the great Venetian schools of color are
not usually understood to be either pure or pensive, and the idea of its
pre-eminence is associated in nearly every mind with the coarseness of
Rubens, and the sensualities of Correggio and Titian. But a more
comprehensive view of art will soon correct this impression. It will be
discovered, in the first place, that the more faithful and earnest the
religion of the painter, the more pure and prevalent is the system of
his color. It will be found, in the second place, that where color
becomes a primal intention with a painter otherwise mean or sensual, it
instantly elevates him, and becomes the one sacred and saving element in
his work. The very depth of the stoop to which the Venetian painters and
Rubens sometimes condescend, is a consequence of their feeling
confidence in the power of their color to keep them from falling. They
hold on by it, as by a chain let down from heaven, with one hand, though
they may sometimes seem to gather dust and ashes with the other. And, in
the last place, it will be found that so surely as a painter is
irreligious, thoughtless, or obscene in disposition, so surely is his
coloring cold, gloomy, and valueless. The opposite poles of art in this
respect are Frà Angelico and Salvator Rosa; of whom the one was a man
who smiled seldom, wept often, prayed constantly, and never harbored an
impure thought. His pictures are simply so many pieces of jewellery, the
colors of the draperies being perfectly pure, as various as those of a
painted window, chastened only by paleness, and relieved upon a gold
ground. Salvator was a dissipated jester and satirist, a man who spent
his life in masquing and revelry. But his pictures are full of horror,
and their color is for the most part gloomy grey. Truly it would seem as
if art had so much of eternity in it, that it must take its dye from the
close rather than the course of life:--"In such laughter the heart of
man is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness."

§ XXXII. These are no singular instances. I know no law more severely
without exception than this of the connexion of pure color with profound
and noble thought. The late Flemish pictures, shallow in conception and
obscene in subject, are always sober in color. But the early religious
painting of the Flemings is as brilliant in hue as it is holy in
thought. The Bellinis, Francias, Peruginos painted in crimson, and blue,
and gold. The Caraccis, Guidos, and Rembrandts in brown and grey. The
builders of our great cathedrals veiled their casements and wrapped
their pillars with one robe of purple splendor. The builders of the
luxurious Renaissance left their palaces filled only with cold white
light, and in the paleness of their native stone.[54]

§ XXXIII. Nor does it seem difficult to discern a noble reason for this
universal law. In that heavenly circle which binds the statutes of color
upon the front of the sky, when it became the sign of the covenant of
peace, the pure hues of divided light were sanctified to the human heart
for ever; nor this, it would seem, by mere arbitrary appointment, but in
consequence of the fore-ordained and marvellous constitution of those
hues into a sevenfold, or, more strictly still, a threefold order,
typical of the Divine nature itself. Observe also, the name Shem, or
Splendor, given to that son of Noah in whom this covenant with mankind
was to be fulfilled, and see how that name was justified by every one of
the Asiatic races which descended from him. Not without meaning was the
love of Israel to his chosen son expressed by the coat "of many colors;"
not without deep sense of the sacredness of that symbol of purity, did
the lost daughter of David tear it from her breast:--"With such robes
were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled."[55] We know it
to have been by Divine command that the Israelite, rescued from
servitude, veiled the tabernacle with its rain of purple and scarlet,
while the under sunshine flashed through the fall of the color from its
tenons of gold: but was it less by Divine guidance that the Mede, as he
struggled out of anarchy, encompassed his king with the sevenfold
burning of the battlements of Ecbatana?--of which one circle was golden
like the sun, and another silver like the moon; and then came the great
sacred chord of color, blue, purple, and scarlet; and then a circle
white like the day, and another dark, like night; so that the city rose
like a great mural rainbow, a sign of peace amidst the contending of
lawless races, and guarded, with color and shadow, that seemed to
symbolize the great order which rules over Day, and Night, and Time, the
first organization of the mighty statutes,--the law of the Medes and
Persians, that altereth not.

§ XXXIV. Let us not dream that it is owing to the accidents of tradition
or education that those races possess the supremacy over color which has
always been felt, though but lately acknowledged among men. However
their dominion might be broken, their virtue extinguished, or their
religion defiled, they retained alike the instinct and the power: the
instinct which made even their idolatry more glorious than that of
others, bursting forth in fire-worship from pyramid, cave, and mountain,
taking the stars for the rulers of its fortune, and the sun for the God
of its life; the power which so dazzled and subdued the rough crusader
into forgetfulness of sorrow and of shame, that Europe put on the
splendor which she had learnt of the Saracen, as her sackcloth of
mourning for what she suffered from his sword;--the power which she
confesses to this day, in the utmost thoughtlessness of her pride, or
her beauty, as it treads the costly carpet, or veils itself with the
variegated Cachemire; and in the emulation of the concourse of her
workmen, who, but a few months back, perceived, or at least admitted,
for the first time, the pre-eminence which has been determined from the
birth of mankind, and on whose charter Nature herself has set a
mysterious seal, granting to the Western races, descended from that son
of Noah whose name was Extension, the treasures of the sullen rock, and
stubborn ore, and gnarled forest, which were to accomplish their destiny
across all distance of earth and depth of sea, while she matured the
jewel in the sand, and rounded the pearl in the shell, to adorn the
diadem of him whose name was Splendor.

§ XXXV. And observe, farther, how in the Oriental mind a peculiar
seriousness is associated with this attribute of the love of color; a
seriousness rising out of repose, and out of the depth and breadth of
the imagination, as contrasted with the activity, and consequent
capability of surprise, and of laughter, characteristic of the Western
mind: as a man on a journey must look to his steps always, and view
things narrowly and quickly; while one at rest may command a wider view,
though an unchanging one, from which the pleasure he receives must be
one of contemplation, rather than of amusement or surprise. Wherever the
pure Oriental spirit manifests itself definitely, I believe its work is
serious; and the meeting of the influences of the Eastern and Western
races is perhaps marked in Europe more by the dying away of the
grotesque laughter of the Goth than by any other sign. I shall have more
to say on this head in other places of this volume; but the point I wish
at present to impress upon the reader is, that the bright hues of the
early architecture of Venice were no sign of gaiety of heart, and that
the investiture with the mantle of many colors by which she is known
above all other cities of Italy and of Europe, was not granted to her in
the fever of her festivity, but in the solemnity of her early and
earnest religion. She became in after times the revel of the earth, the
masque of Italy; and _therefore_ is she now desolate: but her glorious
robe of gold and purple was given her when first she rose a vestal from
the sea, not when she became drunk with the wine of her fornication.

§ XXXVI. And we have never yet looked with enough reverence upon the
separate gift which was thus bestowed upon her; we have never enough
considered what an inheritance she has left us, in the works of those
mighty painters who were the chief of her children. That inheritance is
indeed less than it ought to have been, and other than it ought to have
been; for before Titian and Tintoret arose,--the men in whom her work
and her glory should have been together consummated,--she had already
ceased to lead her sons in the way of truth and life, and they erred
much, and fell short of that which was appointed for them. There is no
subject of thought more melancholy, more wonderful, than the way in
which God permits so often His best gifts to be trodden under foot of
men, His richest treasures to be wasted by the moth, and the mightiest
influences of His Spirit, given but once in the world's history, to be
quenched and shortened by miseries of chance and guilt. I do not wonder
at what men Suffer, but I wonder often at what they Lose. We may see how
good rises out of pain and evil; but the dead, naked, eyeless loss, what
good comes of that? The fruit struck to the earth before its ripeness;
the glowing life and goodly purpose dissolved away in sudden death; the
words, half spoken, choked upon the lips with clay for ever; or,
stranger than all, the whole majesty of humanity raised to its fulness,
and every gift and power necessary for a given purpose, at a given
moment, centred in one man, and all this perfected blessing permitted to
be refused, perverted, crushed, cast aside by those who need it
most,--the city which is Not set on a hill, the candle that giveth light
to None that are in the house:--these are the heaviest mysteries of this
strange world, and, it seems to me, those which mark its curse the most.
And it is true that the power with which this Venice had been entrusted,
was perverted, when at its highest, in a thousand miserable ways; still,
it was possessed by her alone; to her all hearts have turned which could
be moved by its manifestation, and none without being made stronger and
nobler by what her hand had wrought. That mighty Landscape, of dark
mountains that guard the horizon with their purple towers, and solemn
forests, that gather their weight of leaves, bronzed with sunshine, not
with age, into those gloomy masses fixed in heaven, which storm and
frost have power no more to shake, or shed;--that mighty Humanity, so
perfect and so proud, that hides no weakness beneath the mantle, and
gains no greatness from the diadem; the majesty of thoughtful form, on
which the dust of gold and flame of jewels are dashed as the sea-spray
upon the rock, and still the great Manhood seems to stand bare against
the blue sky;--that mighty Mythology, which fills the daily walks of men
with spiritual companionship, and beholds the protecting angels break
with their burning presence through the arrow-flights of
battle:--measure the compass of that field of creation, weigh the value
of the inheritance that Venice thus left to the nations of Europe, and
then judge if so vast, so beneficent a power could indeed have been
rooted in dissipation or decay. It was when she wore the ephod of the
priest, not the motley of the masquer, that the fire fell upon her from
heaven; and she saw the first rays of it through the rain of her own
tears, when, as the barbaric deluge ebbed from the hills of Italy, the
circuit of her palaces, and the orb of her fortunes, rose together, like
the Iris, painted upon the Cloud.


  [41] In the year 1851, by the Duchesse de Berri.

  [42] Of the Braided House and Casa Businello, described in the
    Appendix, only the great central arcades remain.

  [43] Only one wing of the first story is left. See Appendix 11.

  [44] I am obliged to give these measures approximately, because,
    this front having been studied by the builder with unusual care, not
    one of its measures is the same as another; and the symmetries
    between the correspondent arches are obtained by changes in the
    depth of their mouldings and variations in their heights, far too
    complicated for me to enter into here; so that of the two arches
    stated as 19 ft. 8 in. in span, one is in reality 19 ft. 6½ in., the
    other 19 ft. 10 in., and of the two stated as 20 ft. 4 in., one is
    20 ft. and the other 20 ft. 8 in.

  [45] By Mr. Penrose.

  [46] I am sometimes obliged, unfortunately, to read my woodcuts
    backwards owing to my having forgotten to reverse them on the wood.

  [47] Vide Plate X. figs. 1 and 4.

    1. Fondaco de' Turehi, lateral        8. St. Mark's.
         pillars.                         9. St. Mark's.
    2. Terraced House, lateral pillars.  10. Braided House, upper arcade.
    3. Casa Farsetti, central pillars,   11. Casa Loredan, upper arcade.
         upper arcade.                   12. St. Mark's.
    4. Casa Loredan, lower arcade.       13. St. Mark's.
    5. Casa Loredan, lower arcade.       14. Fondaco de' Turchi, upper
    6. Fondaco de' Turchi, upper arcade.       arcade.
    7. Casa Loredan, upper arcade.       15. St. Mark's.

 [49] Compare "Seven Lamps," chap. ii. § 22.

 [50] Two of these are represented in the second number of my folio work
   upon Venice.

 [51] The absence of the true grotesque spirit in Byzantine work will be
   examined in the third chapter of the third volume.

 [52] Ezekiel, xxvii. 11.

 [53] Perhaps this type is in no place of Scripture more touchingly used
   than in Lamentations, i. 12, where the word "afflicted" is rendered in
   the Vulgate "vindemiavit," "vintaged."

 [54] Appendix 12, "Modern Painting on Glass."

 [55] 2 Samuel, xiii. 18.




§ I. If the reader will look back to the division of our subject which
was made in the first chapter of the first volume, he will find that we
are now about to enter upon the examination of that school of Venetian
architecture which forms an intermediate step between the Byzantine and
Gothic forms; but which I find may be conveniently considered in its
connexion with the latter style. In order that we may discern the
tendency of each step of this change, it will be wise in the outset to
endeavor to form some general idea of its final result. We know already
what the Byzantine architecture is from which the transition was made,
but we ought to know something of the Gothic architecture into which it
led. I shall endeavor therefore to give the reader in this chapter an
idea, at once broad and definite, of the true nature of _Gothic_
architecture, properly so called; not of that of Venice only, but of
universal Gothic: for it will be one of the most interesting parts of
our subsequent inquiry, to find out how far Venetian architecture
reached the universal or perfect type of Gothic, and how far it either
fell short of it, or assumed foreign and independent forms.

§ II. The principal difficulty in doing this arises from the fact that
every building of the Gothic period differs in some important respect
from every other; and many include features which, if they occurred in
other buildings, would not be considered Gothic at all; so that all we
have to reason upon is merely, if I may be allowed so to express it, a
greater or less degree of _Gothicness_ in each building we examine. And
it is this Gothicness,--the character which, according as it is found
more or less in a building, makes it more or less Gothic,--of which I
want to define the nature; and I feel the same kind of difficulty in
doing so which would be encountered by any one who undertook to explain,
for instance, the nature of Redness, without any actual red thing to
point to, but only orange and purple things. Suppose he had only a piece
of heather and a dead oak-leaf to do it with. He might say, the color
which is mixed with the yellow in this oak-leaf, and with the blue in
this heather, would be red, if you had it separate; but it would be
difficult, nevertheless, to make the abstraction perfectly intelligible:
and it is so in a far greater degree to make the abstraction of the
Gothic character intelligible, because that character itself is made up
of many mingled ideas, and can consist only in their union. That is to
say, pointed arches do not constitute Gothic, nor vaulted roofs, nor
flying buttresses, nor grotesque sculptures; but all or some of these
things, and many other things with them, when they come together so as
to have life.

§ III. Observe also, that, in the definition proposed, I shall only
endeavor to analyze the idea which I suppose already to exist in the
reader's mind. We all have some notion, most of us a very determined
one, of the meaning of the term Gothic; but I know that many persons
have this idea in their minds without being able to define it: that is
to say, understanding generally that Westminster Abbey is Gothic, and
St. Paul's is not, that Strasburg Cathedral is Gothic, and St. Peter's
is not, they have, nevertheless, no clear notion of what it is that they
recognize in the one or miss in the other, such as would enable them to
say how far the work at Westminster or Strasburg is good and pure of its
kind: still less to say of any non-descript building, like St. James's
Palace or Windsor Castle, how much right Gothic element there is in it,
and how much wanting, And I believe this inquiry to be a pleasant and
profitable one; and that there will be found something more than
usually interesting in tracing out this grey, shadowy, many-pinnacled
image of the Gothic spirit within us; and discerning what fellowship
there is between it and our Northern hearts. And if, at any point of the
inquiry, I should interfere with any of the reader's previously formed
conceptions, and use the term Gothic in any sense which he would not
willingly attach to it, I do not ask him to accept, but only to examine
and understand, my interpretation, as necessary to the intelligibility
of what follows in the rest of the work.

§ IV. We have, then, the Gothic character submitted to our analysis,
just as the rough mineral is submitted to that of the chemist, entangled
with many other foreign substances, itself perhaps in no place pure, or
ever to be obtained or seen in purity for more than an instant; but
nevertheless a thing of definite and separate nature, however
inextricable or confused in appearance. Now observe: the chemist defines
his mineral by two separate kinds of character; one external, its
crystalline form, hardness, lustre, &c.; the other internal, the
proportions and nature of its constituent atoms. Exactly in the same
manner, we shall find that Gothic architecture has external forms, and
internal elements. Its elements are certain mental tendencies of the
builders, legibly expressed in it; as fancifulness, love of variety,
love of richness, and such others. Its external forms are pointed
arches, vaulted roofs, &c. And unless both the elements and the forms
are there, we have no right to call the style Gothic. It is not enough
that it has the Form, if it have not also the power and life. It is not
enough that it has the Power, if it have not the form. We must therefore
inquire into each of these characters successively; and determine first,
what is the Mental Expression, and secondly, what the Material Form, of
Gothic architecture, properly so called.

1st. Mental Power or Expression. What characters, we have to discover,
did the Gothic builders love, or instinctively express in their work, as
distinguished from all other builders?

§ V. Let us go back for a moment to our chemistry, and note that, in
defining a mineral by its constituent parts, it is not one nor another
of them, that can make up the mineral, but the union of all: for
instance, it is neither in charcoal, nor in oxygen, nor in lime, that
there is the making of chalk, but in the combination of all three in
certain measures; they are all found in very different things from
chalk, and there is nothing like chalk either in charcoal or in oxygen,
but they are nevertheless necessary to its existence.

So in the various mental characters which make up the soul of Gothic. It
is not one nor another that produces it; but their union in certain
measures. Each one of them is found in many other architectures besides
Gothic; but Gothic cannot exist where they are not found, or, at least,
where their place is not in some way supplied. Only there is this great
difference between the composition of the mineral, and of the
architectural style, that if we withdraw one of its elements from the
stone, its form is utterly changed, and its existence as such and such a
mineral is destroyed; but if we withdraw one of its mental elements from
the Gothic style, it is only a little less Gothic than it was before,
and the union of two or three of its elements is enough already to
bestow a certain Gothicness of character, which gains in intensity as we
add the others, and loses as we again withdraw them.

§ VI. I believe, then, that the characteristic or moral elements of
Gothic are the following, placed in the order of their importance:

  1. Savageness.
  2. Changefulness.
  3. Naturalism.
  4. Grotesqueness.
  5. Rigidity.
  6. Redundance.

These characters are here expressed as belonging to the building; as
belonging to the builder, they would be expressed thus:--1. Savageness,
or Rudeness. 2. Love of Change. 3. Love of Nature. 4. Disturbed
Imagination. 5, Obstinacy. 6. Generosity. And I repeat, that the
withdrawal of any one, or any two, will not at once destroy the Gothic
character of a building, but the removal of a majority of them will. I
shall proceed to examine them in their order.

§ VII. 1. SAVAGENESS. I am not sure when the word "Gothic" was first
generically applied to the architecture of the North; but I presume
that, whatever the date of its original usage, it was intended to imply
reproach, and express the barbaric character of the nations among whom
that architecture arose. It never implied that they were literally of
Gothic lineage, far less that their architecture had been originally
invented by the Goths themselves; but it did imply that they and their
buildings together exhibited a degree of sternness and rudeness, which,
in contradistinction to the character of Southern and Eastern nations,
appeared like a perpetual reflection of the contrast between the Goth
and the Roman in their first encounter. And when that fallen Roman, in
the utmost impotence of his luxury, and insolence of his guilt, became
the model for the imitation of civilized Europe, at the close of the
so-called Dark ages, the word Gothic became a term of unmitigated
contempt, not unmixed with aversion. From that contempt, by the exertion
of the antiquaries and architects of this century, Gothic architecture
has been sufficiently vindicated; and perhaps some among us, in our
admiration of the magnificent science of its structure, and sacredness
of its expression, might desire that the term of ancient reproach should
be withdrawn, and some other, of more apparent honorableness, adopted in
its place. There is no chance, as there is no need, of such a
substitution. As far as the epithet was used scornfully, it was used
falsely; but there is no reproach in the word, rightly understood; on
the contrary, there is a profound truth, which the instinct of mankind
almost unconsciously recognizes. It is true, greatly and deeply true,
that the architecture of the North is rude and wild; but it is not true,
that, for this reason, we are to condemn it, or despise. Far otherwise:
I believe it is in this very character that it deserves our profoundest

§ VIII. The charts of the world which have been drawn up by modern
science have thrown into a narrow space the expression of a vast amount
of knowledge, but I have never yet seen any one pictorial enough to
enable the spectator to imagine the kind of contrast in physical
character which exists between Northern and Southern countries. We know
the differences in detail, but we have not that broad glance and grasp
which would enable us to feel them in their fulness. We know that
gentians grow on the Alps, and olives on the Apennines; but we do not
enough conceive for ourselves that variegated mosaic of the world's
surface which a bird sees in its migration, that difference between the
district of the gentian and of the olive which the stork and the swallow
see far off, as they lean upon the sirocco wind. Let us, for a moment,
try to raise ourselves even above the level of their flight, and imagine
the Mediterranean lying beneath us like an irregular lake, and all its
ancient promontories sleeping in the sun: here and there an angry spot
of thunder, a grey stain of storm, moving upon the burning field; and
here and there a fixed wreath of white volcano smoke, surrounded by its
circle of ashes; but for the most part a great peacefulness of light,
Syria and Greece, Italy and Spain, laid like pieces of a golden pavement
into the sea-blue, chased, as we stoop nearer to them, with bossy beaten
work of mountain chains, and glowing softly with terraced gardens, and
flowers heavy with frankincense, mixed among masses of laurel, and
orange and plumy palm, that abate with their grey-green shadows the
burning of the marble rocks, and of the ledges of porphyry sloping under
lucent sand. Then let us pass farther towards the north, until we see
the orient colors change gradually into a vast belt of rainy green,
where the pastures of Switzerland, and poplar valleys of France, and
dark forests of the Danube and Carpathians stretch from the mouths of
the Loire to those of the Volga, seen through clefts in grey swirls of
rain-cloud and flaky veils of the mist of the brooks, spreading low
along the pasture lands: and then, farther north still, to see the earth
heave into mighty masses of leaden rock and heathy moor, bordering with
a broad waste of gloomy purple that belt of field and wood, and
splintering into irregular and grisly islands amidst the northern seas,
beaten by storm and chilled by ice-drift, and tormented by furious
pulses of contending tide, until the roots of the last forests fail from
among the hill ravines, and the hunger of the north wind bites their
peaks into barrenness; and, at last, the wall of ice, durable like iron,
sets, deathlike, its white teeth against us out of the polar twilight.
And, having once traversed in thought its gradation of the zoned iris of
the earth in all its material vastness, let us go down nearer to it, and
watch the parallel change in the belt of animal life: the multitudes of
swift and brilliant creatures that glance in the air and sea, or tread
the sands of the southern zone; striped zebras and spotted leopards,
glistening serpents, and birds arrayed in purple and scarlet. Let us
contrast their delicacy and brilliancy of color, and swiftness of
motion, with the frost-cramped strength, and shaggy covering, and dusky
plumage of the northern tribes; contrast the Arabian horse with the
Shetland, the tiger and leopard with the wolf and bear, the antelope
with the elk, the bird of paradise with the osprey: and then,
submissively acknowledging the great laws by which the earth and all
that it bears are ruled throughout their being, let us not condemn, but
rejoice at the expression by man of his own rest in the statutes of the
lands that gave him birth. Let us watch him with reverence as he sets
side by side the burning gems, and smoothes with soft sculpture the
jasper pillars, that are to reflect a ceaseless sunshine, and rise into
a cloudless sky: but not with less reverence let us stand by him, when,
with rough strength and hurried stroke, he smites an uncouth animation
out of the rocks which he has torn from among the moss of the moorland,
and heaves into the darkened air the pile of iron buttress and rugged
wall, instinct with work of an imagination as wild and wayward as the
northern sea; creations of ungainly shape and rigid limb, but full of
wolfish life; fierce as the winds that beat, and changeful as the clouds
that shade them.

There is, I repeat, no degradation, no reproach in this, but all dignity
and honorableness; and we should err grievously in refusing either to
recognise as an essential character of the existing architecture of the
North, or to admit as a desirable character in that which it yet may be,
this wildness of thought, and roughness of work; this look of mountain
brotherhood between the cathedral and the Alp; this magnificence of
sturdy power, put forth only the more energetically because the fine
finger-touch was chilled away by the frosty wind, and the eye dimmed by
the moor-mist, or blinded by the hail; this outspeaking of the strong
spirit of men who may not gather redundant fruitage from the earth, nor
bask in dreamy benignity of sunshine, but must break the rock for bread,
and cleave the forest for fire, and show, even in what they did for
their delight, some of the hard habits of the arm and heart that grew on
them as they swung the axe or pressed the plough.

§ IX. If, however, the savageness of Gothic architecture, merely as an
expression of its origin among Northern nations, may be considered, in
some sort, a noble character, it possesses a higher nobility still, when
considered as an index, not of climate, but of religious principle.

In the 13th and 14th paragraphs of Chapter XXI. of the first volume of
this work, it was noticed that the systems of architectural ornament,
properly so called, might be divided into three:--1. Servile ornament,
in which the execution or power of the inferior workman is entirely
subjected to the intellect of the higher:--2. Constitutional ornament,
in which the executive inferior power is, to a certain point,
emancipated and independent, having a will of its own, yet confessing
its inferiority and rendering obedience to higher powers;--and 3.
Revolutionary ornament, in which no executive inferiority is admitted at
all. I must here explain the nature of these divisions at somewhat
greater length.

Of Servile ornament, the principal schools are the Greek, Ninevite, and
Egyptian; but their servility is of different kinds. The Greek
master-workman was far advanced in knowledge and power above the
Assyrian or Egyptian. Neither he nor those for whom he worked could
endure the appearance of imperfection in anything; and, therefore, what
ornament he appointed to be done by those beneath him was composed of
mere geometrical forms,--balls, ridges, and perfectly symmetrical
foliage,--which could be executed with absolute precision by line and
rule, and were as perfect in their way when completed, as his own figure
sculpture. The Assyrian and Egyptian, on the contrary, less cognizant of
accurate form in anything, were content to allow their figure sculpture
to be executed by inferior workmen, but lowered the method of its
treatment to a standard which every workman could reach, and then
trained him by discipline so rigid, that there was no chance of his
falling beneath the standard appointed. The Greek gave to the lower
workman no subject which he could not perfectly execute. The Assyrian
gave him subjects which he could only execute imperfectly, but fixed a
legal standard for his imperfection. The workman was, in both systems, a

§ X. But in the mediæval, or especially Christian, system of ornament,
this slavery is done away with altogether; Christianity having
recognized, in small things as well as great, the individual value of
every soul. But it not only recognizes its value; it confesses its
imperfection, in only bestowing dignity upon the acknowledgment of
unworthiness. That admission of lost power and fallen nature, which the
Greek or Ninevite felt to be intensely painful, and, as far as might be,
altogether refused, the Christian makes daily and hourly, contemplating
the fact of it without fear, as tending, in the end, to God's greater
glory. Therefore, to every spirit which Christianity summons to her
service, her exhortation is: Do what you can, and confess frankly what
you are unable to do; neither let your effort be shortened for fear of
failure, nor your confession silenced for fear of shame. And it is,
perhaps, the principal admirableness of the Gothic schools of
architecture, that they thus receive the results of the labor of
inferior minds; and out of fragments full of imperfection, and betraying
that imperfection in every touch, indulgently raise up a stately and
unaccusable whole.

§ XI. But the modern English mind has this much in common with that of
the Greek, that it intensely desires, in all things, the utmost
completion or perfection compatible with their nature. This is a noble
character in the abstract, but becomes ignoble when it causes us to
forget the relative dignities of that nature itself, and to prefer the
perfectness of the lower nature to the imperfection of the higher; not
considering that as, judged by such a rule, all the brute animals would
be preferable to man, because more perfect in their functions and kind,
and yet are always held inferior to him, so also in the works of man,
those which are more perfect in their kind are always inferior to those
which are, in their nature, liable to more faults and shortcomings. For
the finer the nature, the more flaws it will show through the clearness
of it; and it is a law of this universe, that the best things shall be
seldomest seen in their best form. The wild grass grows well and
strongly, one year with another; but the wheat is, according to the
greater nobleness of its nature, liable to the bitterer blight. And
therefore, while in all things that we see, or do, we are to desire
perfection, and strive for it, we are nevertheless not to set the meaner
thing, in its narrow accomplishment, above the nobler thing, in its
mighty progress; not to esteem smooth minuteness above shattered
majesty; not to prefer mean victory to honorable defeat; not to lower
the level of our aim, that we may the more surely enjoy the complacency
of success. But, above all, in our dealings with the souls of other men,
we are to take care how we check, by severe requirement or narrow
caution, efforts which might otherwise lead to a noble issue; and, still
more, how we withhold our admiration from great excellences, because
they are mingled with rough faults. Now, in the make and nature of every
man, however rude or simple, whom we employ in manual labor, there are
some powers for better things: some tardy imagination, torpid capacity
of emotion, tottering steps of thought, there are, even at the worst;
and in most cases it is all our own fault that they _are_ tardy or
torpid. But they cannot be strengthened, unless we are content to take
them in their feebleness, and unless we prize and honor them in their
imperfection above the best and most perfect manual skill. And this is
what we have to do with all our laborers; to look for the _thoughtful_
part of them, and get that out of them, whatever we lose for it,
whatever faults and errors we are obliged to take with it. For the best
that is in them cannot manifest itself, but in company with much error.
Understand this clearly: You can teach a man to draw a straight line,
and to cut one; to strike a curved line, and to carve it; and to copy
and carve any number of given lines or forms, with admirable speed and
perfect precision; and you find his work perfect of its kind: but if you
ask him to think about any of those forms, to consider if he cannot find
any better in his own head, he stops; his execution becomes hesitating;
he thinks, and ten to one he thinks wrong; ten to one he makes a mistake
in the first touch he gives to his work as a thinking being. But you
have made a man of him for all that. He was only a machine before, an
animated tool.

§ XII. And observe, you are put to stern choice in this matter. You must
either made a tool of the creature, or a man of him. You cannot make
both. Men were not intended to work with the accuracy of tools, to be
precise and perfect in all their actions. If you will have that
precision out of them, and make their fingers measure degrees like
cog-wheels, and their arms strike curves like compasses, you must
unhumanize them. All the energy of their spirits must be given to make
cogs and compasses of themselves. All their attention and strength must
go to the accomplishment of the mean act. The eye of the soul must be
bent upon the finger-point, and the soul's force must fill all the
invisible nerves that guide it, ten hours a day, that it may not err
from its steely precision, and so soul and sight be worn away, and the
whole human being be lost at last--a heap of sawdust, so far as its
intellectual work in this world is concerned; saved only by its Heart,
which cannot go into the form of cogs and compasses, but expands, after
the ten hours are over, into fireside humanity. On the other hand, if
you will make a man of the working creature, you cannot make a tool. Let
him but begin to imagine, to think, to try to do anything worth doing;
and the engine-turned precision is lost at once. Out come all his
roughness, all his dulness, all his incapability; shame upon shame,
failure upon failure, pause after pause: but out comes the whole majesty
of him also; and we know the height of it only, when we see the clouds
settling upon him. And, whether the clouds be bright or dark, there will
be transfiguration behind and within them.

§ XIII. And now, reader, look round this English room of yours, about
which you have been proud so often, because the work of it was so good
and strong, and the ornaments of it so finished. Examine again all those
accurate mouldings, and perfect polishings, and unerring adjustments of
the seasoned wood and tempered steel. Many a time you have exulted over
them, and thought how great England was, because her slightest work was
done so thoroughly. Alas! if read rightly, these perfectnesses are signs
of a slavery in our England a thousand times more bitter and more
degrading than that of the scourged African, or helot Greek. Men may be
beaten, chained, tormented, yoked like cattle, slaughtered like summer
flies, and yet remain in one sense, and the best sense, free. But to
smother their souls within them, to blight and hew into rotting pollards
the suckling branches of their human intelligence, to make the flesh and
skin which, after the worm's work on it, is to see God, into leathern
thongs to yoke machinery with,--this it is to be slave-masters indeed;
and there might be more freedom in England, though her feudal lords'
lightest words were worth men's lives, and though the blood of the vexed
husbandman dropped in the furrows of her fields, than there is while
the animation of her multitudes is sent like fuel to feed the factory
smoke, and the strength of them is given daily to be wasted into the
fineness of a web, or racked into the exactness of a line.

§ XIV. And, on the other hand, go forth again to gaze upon the old
cathedral front, where you have smiled so often at the fantastic
ignorance of the old sculptors: examine once more those ugly goblins,
and formless monsters, and stern statues, anatomiless and rigid; but do
not mock at them, for they are signs of the life and liberty of every
workman who struck the stone; a freedom of thought, and rank in scale of
being, such as no laws, no charters, no charities can secure; but which
it must be the first aim of all Europe at this day to regain for her

§ XV. Let me not be thought to speak wildly or extravagantly. It is
verily this degradation of the operative into a machine, which, more
than any other evil of the times, is leading the mass of the nations
everywhere into vain, incoherent, destructive struggling for a freedom
of which they cannot explain the nature to themselves. Their universal
outcry against wealth, and against nobility, is not forced from them
either by the pressure of famine, or the sting of mortified pride. These
do much, and have done much in all ages; but the foundations of society
were never yet shaken as they are at this day. It is not that men are
ill fed, but that they have no pleasure in the work by which they make
their bread, and therefore look to wealth as the only means of pleasure.
It is not that men are pained by the scorn of the upper classes, but
they cannot endure their own; for they feel that the kind of labor to
which they are condemned is verily a degrading one, and makes them less
than men. Never had the upper classes so much sympathy with the lower,
or charity for them, as they have at this day, and yet never were they
so much hated by them: for, of old, the separation between the noble and
the poor was merely a wall built by law; now it is a veritable
difference in level of standing, a precipice between upper and lower
grounds in the field of humanity and there is pestilential air at the
bottom of it. I know not if a day is ever to come when the nature of
right freedom will be understood, and when men will see that to obey
another man, to labor for him, yield reverence to him or to his place,
is not slavery. It is often the best kind of liberty,--liberty from
care. The man who says to one, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come,
and he cometh, has, in most cases, more sense of restraint and
difficulty than the man who obeys him. The movements of the one are
hindered by the burden on his shoulder; of the other, by the bridle on
his lips: there is no way by which the burden may be lightened; but we
need not suffer from the bridle if we do not champ at it. To yield
reverence to another, to hold ourselves and our lives at his disposal,
is not slavery; often, it is the noblest state in which a man can live
in this world. There is, indeed, a reverence which is servile, that is
to say, irrational or selfish: but there is also noble reverence, that
is to say, reasonable and loving; and a man is never so noble as when he
is reverent in this kind; nay, even if the feeling pass the bounds of
mere reason, so that it be loving, a man is raised by it. Which had, in
reality, most of the serf nature in him,--the Irish peasant who was
lying in wait yesterday for his landlord, with his musket muzzle thrust
through the ragged hedge; or that old mountain servant, who, 200 years
ago, at Inverkeithing, gave up his own life and the lives of his seven
sons for his chief?[57]--and as each fell, calling forth his brother to
the death, "Another for Hector!" And therefore, in all ages and all
countries, reverence has been paid and sacrifice made by men to each
other, not only without complaint, but rejoicingly; and famine, and
peril, and sword, and all evil, and all shame, have been borne willingly
in the causes of masters and kings; for all these gifts of the heart
ennobled the men who gave, not less than the men who received them, and
nature prompted, and God rewarded the sacrifice. But to feel their souls
withering within them, unthanked, to find their whole being sunk into an
unrecognized abyss, to be counted off into a heap of mechanism,
numbered with its wheels, and weighed with its hammer strokes;--this
nature bade not,--this God blesses not,--this humanity for no long time
is able to endure.

§ XVI. We have much studied and much perfected, of late, the great
civilized invention of the division of labor; only we give it a false
name. It is not, truly speaking, the labor that is divided; but the
men:--Divided into mere segments of men--broken into small fragments and
crumbs of life; so that all the little piece of intelligence that is
left in a man is not enough to make a pin, or a nail, but exhausts
itself in making the point of a pin, or the head of a nail. Now it is a
good and desirable thing, truly, to make many pins in a day; but if we
could only see with what crystal sand their points were polished,--sand
of human soul, much to be magnified before it can be discerned for what
it is,--we should think there might be some loss in it also. And the
great cry that rises from all our manufacturing cities, louder than
their furnace blast, is all in very deed for this,--that we manufacture
everything there except men; we blanch cotton, and strengthen steel, and
refine sugar, and shape pottery; but to brighten, to strengthen, to
refine, or to form a single living spirit, never enters into our
estimate of advantages. And all the evil to which that cry is urging our
myriads can be met only in one way: not by teaching nor preaching, for
to teach them is but to show them their misery, and to preach to them,
if we do nothing more than preach, is to mock at it. It can be met only
by a right understanding, on the part of all classes, of what kinds of
labor are good for men, raising them, and making them happy; by a
determined sacrifice of such convenience, or beauty, or cheapness as is
to be got only by the degradation of the workman; and by equally
determined demand for the products and results of healthy and ennobling

§ XVII. And how, it will be asked, are these products to be recognized,
and this demand to be regulated? Easily: by the observance of three
broad and simple rules:

1. Never encourage the manufacture of any article not absolutely
necessary, in the production of which _Invention_ has no share.

2. Never demand an exact finish for its own sake, but only for some
practical or noble end.

3. Never encourage imitation or copying of any kind, except for the sake
of preserving record of great works.

The second of these principles is the only one which directly rises out
of the consideration of our immediate subject; but I shall briefly
explain the meaning and extent of the first also, reserving the
enforcement of the third for another place.

1. Never encourage the manufacture of anything not necessary, in the
production of which invention has no share.

For instance. Glass beads are utterly unnecessary, and there is no
design or thought employed in their manufacture. They are formed by
first drawing out the glass into rods; these rods are chopped up into
fragments of the size of beads by the human hand, and the fragments are
then rounded in the furnace. The men who chop up the rods sit at their
work all day, their hands vibrating with a perpetual and exquisitely
timed palsy, and the beads dropping beneath their vibration like hail.
Neither they, nor the men who draw out the rods, or fuse the fragments,
have the smallest occasion for the use of any single human faculty; and
every young lady, therefore, who buys glass beads is engaged in the
slave-trade, and in a much more cruel one than that which we have so
long been endeavoring to put down.

But glass cups and vessels may become the subjects of exquisite
invention; and if in buying these we pay for the invention, that is to
say for the beautiful form, or color, or engraving, and not for mere
finish of execution, we are doing good to humanity.

§ XVIII. So, again, the cutting of precious stones, in all ordinary
cases, requires little exertion of any mental faculty; some tact and
judgment in avoiding flaws, and so on, but nothing to bring out the
whole mind. Every person who wears cut jewels merely for the sake of
their value is, therefore, a slave-driver.

But the working of the goldsmith, and the various designing of grouped
jewellery and enamel-work, may become the subject of the most noble
human intelligence. Therefore, money spent in the purchase of
well-designed plate, of precious engraved vases, cameos, or enamels,
does good to humanity; and, in work of this kind, jewels may be employed
to heighten its splendor; and their cutting is then a price paid for the
attainment of a noble end, and thus perfectly allowable.

§ XIX. I shall perhaps press this law farther elsewhere, but our
immediate concern is chiefly with the second, namely, never to demand an
exact finish, when it does not lead to a noble end. For observe, I have
only dwelt upon the rudeness of Gothic, or any other kind of
imperfectness, as admirable, where it was impossible to get design or
thought without it. If you are to have the thought of a rough and
untaught man, you must have it in a rough and untaught way; but from an
educated man, who can without effort express his thoughts in an educated
way, take the graceful expression, and be thankful. Only _get_ the
thought, and do not silence the peasant because he cannot speak good
grammar, or until you have taught him his grammar. Grammar and
refinement are good things, both, only be sure of the better thing
first. And thus in art, delicate finish is desirable from the greatest
masters, and is always given by them. In some places Michael Angelo,
Leonardo, Phidias, Perugino, Turner, all finished with the most
exquisite care; and the finish they give always leads to the fuller
accomplishment of their noble purposes. But lower men than these cannot
finish, for it requires consummate knowledge to finish consummately, and
then we must take their thoughts as they are able to give them. So the
rule is simple: Always look for invention first, and after that, for
such execution as will help the invention, and as the inventor is
capable of without painful effort, and _no more_. Above all, demand no
refinement of execution where there is no thought, for that is slaves'
work, unredeemed. Rather choose rough work than smooth work, so only
that the practical purpose be answered, and never imagine there is
reason to be proud of anything that may be accomplished by patience and

§ XX. I shall only give one example, which however will show the reader
what I mean, from the manufacture already alluded to, that of glass. Our
modern glass is exquisitely clear in its substance, true in its form,
accurate in its cutting. We are proud of this. We ought to be ashamed of
it. The old Venice glass was muddy, inaccurate in all its forms, and
clumsily cut, if at all. And the old Venetian was justly proud of it.
For there is this difference between the English and Venetian workman,
that the former thinks only of accurately matching his patterns, and
getting his curves perfectly true and his edges perfectly sharp, and
becomes a mere machine for rounding curves and sharpening edges, while
the old Venetian cared not a whit whether his edges were sharp or not,
but he invented a new design for every glass that he made, and never
moulded a handle or a lip without a new fancy in it. And therefore,
though some Venetian glass is ugly and clumsy enough, when made by
clumsy and uninventive workmen, other Venetian glass is so lovely in its
forms that no price is too great for it; and we never see the same form
in it twice. Now you cannot have the finish and the varied form too. If
the workman is thinking about his edges, he cannot be thinking of his
design; if of his design, he cannot think of his edges. Choose whether
you will pay for the lovely form or the perfect finish, and choose at
the same moment whether you will make the worker a man or a grindstone.

§ XXI. Nay, but the reader interrupts me,--"If the workman can design
beautifully, I would not have him kept at the furnace. Let him be taken
away and made a gentleman, and have a studio, and design his glass
there, and I will have it blown and cut for him by common workmen, and
so I will have my design and my finish too."

All ideas of this kind are founded upon two mistaken suppositions: the
first, that one man's thoughts can be, or ought to be, executed by
another man's hands; the second, that manual labor is a degradation,
when it is governed by intellect.

On a large scale, and in work determinable by line and rule, it is
indeed both possible and necessary that the thoughts of one man should
be carried out by the labor of others; in this sense I have already
defined the best architecture to be the expression of the mind of
manhood by the hands of childhood. But on a smaller scale, and in a
design which cannot be mathematically defined, one man's thoughts can
never be expressed by another: and the difference between the spirit of
touch of the man who is inventing, and of the man who is obeying
directions, is often all the difference between a great and a common
work of art. How wide the separation is between original and second-hand
execution, I shall endeavor to show elsewhere; it is not so much to our
purpose here as to mark the other and more fatal error of despising
manual labor when governed by intellect; for it is no less fatal an
error to despise it when thus regulated by intellect, than to value it
for its own sake. We are always in these days endeavoring to separate
the two; we want one man to be always thinking, and another to be always
working, and we call one a gentleman, and the other an operative;
whereas the workman ought often to be thinking, and the thinker often to
be working, and both should be gentlemen, in the best sense. As it is,
we make both ungentle, the one envying, the other despising, his
brother; and the mass of society is made up of morbid thinkers, and
miserable workers. Now it is only by labor that thought can be made
healthy, and only by thought that labor can be made happy, and the two
cannot be separated with impunity. It would be well if all of us were
good handicraftsmen in some kind, and the dishonor of manual labor done
away with altogether; so that though there should still be a trenchant
distinction of race between nobles and commoners, there should not,
among the latter, be a trenchant distinction of employment, as between
idle and working men, or between men of liberal and illiberal
professions. All professions should be liberal, and there should be less
pride felt in peculiarity of employment, and more in excellence of
achievement. And yet more, in each several profession, no master should
be too proud to do its hardest work. The painter should grind his own
colors; the architect work in the mason's yard with his men; the
master-manufacturer be himself a more skilful operative than any man in
his mills; and the distinction between one man and another be only in
experience and skill, and the authority and wealth which these must
naturally and justly obtain.

§ XXII. I should be led far from the matter in hand, if I were to pursue
this interesting subject. Enough, I trust, has been said to show the
reader that the rudeness or imperfection which at first rendered the
term "Gothic" one of reproach is indeed, when rightly understood, one of
the most noble characters of Christian architecture, and not only a
noble but an _essential_ one. It seems a fantastic paradox, but it is
nevertheless a most important truth, that no architecture can be truly
noble which is _not_ imperfect. And this is easily demonstrable. For
since the architect, whom we will suppose capable of doing all in
perfection, cannot execute the whole with his own hands, he must either
make slaves of his workmen in the old Greek, and present English
fashion, and level his work to a slave's capacities, which is to degrade
it; or else he must take his workmen as he finds them, and let them show
their weaknesses together with their strength, which will involve the
Gothic imperfection, but render the whole work as noble as the intellect
of the age can make it.

§ XXIII. But the principle may be stated more broadly still. I have
confined the illustration of it to architecture, but I must not leave it
as if true of architecture only. Hitherto I have used the words
imperfect and perfect merely to distinguish between work grossly
unskilful, and work executed with average precision and science; and I
have been pleading that any degree of unskilfulness should be admitted,
so only that the laborer's mind had room for expression. But, accurately
speaking, no good work whatever can be perfect, and _the demand for
perfection is always a sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art_.

§ XXIV. This for two reasons, both based on everlasting laws. The first,
that no great man ever stops working till he has reached his point of
failure; that is to say, his mind is always far in advance of his
powers of execution, and the latter will now and then give way in trying
to follow it; besides that he will always give to the inferior portions
of his work only such inferior attention as they require; and according
to his greatness he becomes so accustomed to the feeling of
dissatisfaction with the best he can do, that in moments of lassitude or
anger with himself he will not care though the beholder be dissatisfied
also. I believe there has only been one man who would not acknowledge
this necessity, and strove always to reach perfection, Leonardo; the end
of his vain effort being merely that he would take ten years to a
picture, and leave it unfinished. And therefore, if we are to have great
men working at all, or less men doing their best, the work will be
imperfect, however beautiful. Of human work none but what is bad can be
perfect, in its own bad way.[58]

§ XXV. The second reason is, that imperfection is in some sort essential
to all that we know of life. It is the sign of life in a mortal body,
that is to say, of a state of progress and change. Nothing that lives
is, or can be, rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent.
The foxglove blossom,--a third part bud, a third part past, a third part
in full bloom,--is a type of the life of this world. And in all things
that live there are certain, irregularities and deficiencies which are
not only signs of life, but sources of beauty. No human face is exactly
the same in its lines on each side, no leaf perfect in its lobes, no
branch in its symmetry. All admit irregularity as they imply change; and
to banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to
paralyse vitality. All things are literally better, lovelier, and more
beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed, that
the law of human life may be Effort, and the law of human judgment,

Accept this then for a universal law, that neither architecture nor any
other noble work of man can be good unless it be imperfect; and let us
be prepared for the otherwise strange fact, which we shall discern
clearly as we approach the period of the Renaissance, that the first
cause of the fall of the arts of Europe was a relentless requirement of
perfection, incapable alike either of being silenced by veneration for
greatness, or softened into forgiveness of simplicity.

Thus far then of the Rudeness or Savageness, which is the first mental
element of Gothic architecture. It is an element in many other healthy
architectures also, as in Byzantine and Romanesque; but true Gothic
cannot exist without it.

§ XXVI. The second mental element above named was CHANGEFULNESS, or

I have already enforced the allowing independent operation to the
inferior workman, simply as a duty _to him_, and as ennobling the
architecture by rendering it more Christian. We have now to consider
what reward we obtain for the performance of this duty, namely, the
perpetual variety of every feature of the building.

Wherever the workman is utterly enslaved, the parts of the building must
of course be absolutely like each other; for the perfection of his
execution can only be reached by exercising him in doing one thing, and
giving him nothing else to do. The degree in which the workman is
degraded may be thus known at a glance, by observing whether the several
parts of the building are similar or not; and if, as in Greek work, all
the capitals are alike, and all the mouldings unvaried, then the
degradation is complete; if, as in Egyptian or Ninevite work, though the
manner of executing certain figures is always the same, the order of
design is perpetually varied, the degradation is less total; if, as in
Gothic work, there is perpetual change both in design and execution, the
workman must have been altogether set free.

§ XXVII. How much the beholder gains from the liberty of the laborer may
perhaps be questioned in England, where one of the strongest instincts
in nearly every mind is that Love of Order which makes us desire that
our house windows should pair like our carriage horses, and allows us
to yield our faith unhesitatingly to architectural theories which fix a
form for everything and forbid variation from it. I would not impeach
love of order: it is one of the most useful elements of the English
mind; it helps us in our commerce and in all purely practical matters;
and it is in many cases one of the foundation stones of morality. Only
do not let us suppose that love of order is love of art. It is true that
order, in its highest sense, is one of the necessities of art, just as
time is a necessity of music; but love of order has no more to do with
our right enjoyment of architecture or painting, than love of
punctuality with the appreciation of an opera. Experience, I fear,
teaches us that accurate and methodical habits in daily life are seldom
characteristic of those who either quickly perceive, or richly possess,
the creative powers of art; there is, however, nothing inconsistent
between the two instincts, and nothing to hinder us from retaining our
business habits, and yet fully allowing and enjoying the noblest gifts
of Invention. We already do so, in every other branch of art except
architecture, and we only do _not_ so there because we have been taught
that it would be wrong. Our architects gravely inform us that, as there
are four rules of arithmetic, there are five orders of architecture; we,
in our simplicity, think that this sounds consistent, and believe them.
They inform us also that there is one proper form for Corinthian
capitals, another for Doric, and another for Ionic. We, considering that
there is also a proper form for the letters A, B, and C, think that this
also sounds consistent, and accept the proposition. Understanding,
therefore, that one form of the said capitals is proper, and no other,
and having a conscientious horror of all impropriety, we allow the
architect to provide us with the said capitals, of the proper form, in
such and such a quantity, and in all other points to take care that the
legal forms are observed; which having done, we rest in forced
confidence that we are well housed.

§ XXVIII. But our higher instincts are not deceived. We take no pleasure
in the building provided for us, resembling that which we take in a new
book or a new picture. We may be proud of its size, complacent in its
correctness, and happy in its convenience. We may take the same pleasure
in its symmetry and workmanship as in a well-ordered room, or a skilful
piece of manufacture. And this we suppose to be all the pleasure that
architecture was ever intended to give us. The idea of reading a
building as we would read Milton or Dante, and getting the same kind of
delight out of the stones as out of the stanzas, never enters our minds
for a moment. And for good reason:--There is indeed rhythm in the
verses, quite as strict as the symmetries or rhythm of the architecture,
and a thousand times more beautiful, but there is something else than
rhythm. The verses were neither made to order, nor to match, as the
capitals were; and we have therefore a kind of pleasure in them other
than a sense of propriety. But it requires a strong effort of common
sense to shake ourselves quit of all that we have been taught for the
last two centuries, and wake to the perception of a truth just as simple
and certain as it is new: that great art, whether expressing itself in
words, colors, or stones, does _not_ say the same thing over and over
again; that the merit of architectural, as of every other art, consists
in its saying new and different things; that to repeat itself is no more
a characteristic of genius in marble than it is of genius in print; and
that we may, without offending any laws of good taste, require of an
architect, as we do of a novelist, that he should be not only correct,
but entertaining.

Yet all this is true, and self-evident; only hidden from us, as many
other self-evident things are, by false teaching. Nothing is a great
work of art, for the production of which either rules or models can be
given. Exactly so far as architecture works on known rules, and from
given models, it is not an art, but a manufacture; and it is, of the two
procedures, rather less rational (because more easy) to copy capitals or
mouldings from Phidias, and call ourselves architects, than to copy
heads and hands from Titian, and call ourselves painters.

§ XXIX. Let us then understand at once, that change or variety is as
much a necessity to the human heart and brain in buildings as in books;
that there is no merit, though there is some occasional use, in
monotony; and that we must no more expect to derive either pleasure or
profit from an architecture whose ornaments are of one pattern, and
whose pillars are of one proportion, than we should out of a universe in
which the clouds were all of one shape, and the trees all of one size.

§ XXX. And this we confess in deeds, though not in words. All the
pleasure which the people of the nineteenth century take in art, is in
pictures, sculpture, minor objects of virtù, or mediæval architecture,
which we enjoy under the term picturesque: no pleasure is taken anywhere
in modern buildings, and we find all men of true feeling delighting to
escape out of modern cities into natural scenery: hence, as I shall
hereafter show, that peculiar love of landscape which is characteristic
of the age. It would be well, if, in all other matters, we were as ready
to put up with what we dislike, for the sake of compliance with
established law, as we are in architecture.

§ XXXI. How so debased a law ever came to be established, we shall see
when we come to describe the Renaissance schools: here we have only to
note, as the second most essential element of the Gothic spirit, that it
broke through that law wherever it found it in existence; it not only
dared, but delighted in, the infringement of every servile principle;
and invented a series of forms of which the merit was, not merely that
they were new, but that they were _capable of perpetual novelty_. The
pointed arch was not merely a bold variation from the round, but it
admitted of millions of variations in itself; for the proportions of a
pointed arch are changeable to infinity, while a circular arch is always
the same. The grouped shaft was not merely a bold variation from the
single one, but it admitted of millions of variations in its grouping,
and in the proportions resultant from its grouping. The introduction of
tracery was not only a startling change in the treatment of window
lights, but admitted endless changes in the interlacement of the tracery
bars themselves. So that, while in all living Christian architecture the
love of variety exists, the Gothic schools exhibited that love in
culminating energy; and their influence, wherever it extended itself,
may be sooner and farther traced by this character than by any other;
the tendency to the adoption of Gothic types being always first shown by
greater irregularity and richer variation in the forms of the
architecture it is about to supersede, long before the appearance of the
pointed arch or of any other recognizable _outward_ sign of the Gothic

§ XXXII. We must, however, herein note carefully what distinction there
is between a healthy and a diseased love of change; for as it was in
healthy love of change that the Gothic architecture rose, it was partly
in consequence of diseased love of change that it was destroyed. In
order to understand this clearly, it will be necessary to consider the
different ways in which change and monotony are presented to us in
nature; both having their use, like darkness and light, and the one
incapable of being enjoyed without the other: change being most
delightful after some prolongation of monotony, as light appears most
brilliant after the eyes have been for some time closed.

§ XXXIII. I believe that the true relations of monotony and change may
be most simply understood by observing them in music. We may therein
notice, first, that there is a sublimity and majesty in monotony which
there is not in rapid or frequent variation. This is true throughout all
nature. The greater part of the sublimity of the sea depends on its
monotony; so also that of desolate moor and mountain scenery; and
especially the sublimity of motion, as in the quiet, unchanged fall and
rise of an engine beam. So also there is sublimity in darkness which
there is not in light.

§ XXXIV. Again, monotony after a certain time, or beyond a certain
degree, becomes either uninteresting or intolerable, and the musician is
obliged to break it in one or two ways: either while the air or passage
is perpetually repeated, its notes are variously enriched and
harmonized; or else, after a certain number of repeated passages, an
entirely new passage is introduced, which is more or less delightful
according to the length of the previous monotony. Nature, of course,
uses both these kinds of variation perpetually. The sea-waves,
resembling each other in general mass, but none like its brother in
minor divisions and curves, are a monotony of the first kind; the great
plain, broken by an emergent rock or clump of trees, is a monotony of
the second.

§ XXXV. Farther: in order to the enjoyment of the change in either case,
a certain degree of patience is required from the hearer or observer. In
the first case, he must be satisfied to endure with patience the
recurrence of the great masses of sound or form, and to seek for
entertainment in a careful watchfulness of the minor details. In the
second case, he must bear patiently the infliction of the monotony for
some moments, in order to feel the full refreshment of the change. This
is true even of the shortest musical passage in which the element of
monotony is employed. In cases of more majestic monotony, the patience
required is so considerable that it becomes a kind of pain,--a price
paid for the future pleasure.

§ XXXVI. Again: the talent of the composer is not in the monotony, but
in the changes: he may show feeling and taste by his use of monotony in
certain places or degrees; that is to say, by his _various_ employment
of it; but it is always in the new arrangement or invention that his
intellect is shown, and not in the monotony which relieves it.

Lastly: if the pleasure of change be too often repeated, it ceases to be
delightful, for then change itself becomes monotonous, and we are driven
to seek delight in extreme and fantastic degrees of it. This is the
diseased love of change of which we have above spoken.

§ XXXVII. From these facts we may gather generally that monotony is, and
ought to be, in itself painful to us, just as darkness is; that an
architecture which is altogether monotonous is a dark or dead
architecture; and, of those who love it, it may be truly said, "they
love darkness rather than light." But monotony in certain measure, used
in order to give value to change, and, above all, that _transparent_
monotony which, like the shadows of a great painter, suffers all manner
of dimly suggested form to be seen through the body of it, is an
essential in architectural as in all other composition; and the
endurance of monotony has about the same place in a healthy mind that
the endurance of darkness has: that is to say, as a strong intellect
will have pleasure in the solemnities of storm and twilight, and in the
broken and mysterious lights that gleam among them, rather than in mere
brilliancy and glare, while a frivolous mind will dread the shadow and
the storm; and as a great man will be ready to endure much darkness of
fortune in order to reach greater eminence of power or felicity, while
an inferior man will not pay the price; exactly in like manner a great
mind will accept, or even delight in, monotony which would be wearisome
to an inferior intellect, because it has more patience and power of
expectation, and is ready to pay the full price for the great future
pleasure of change. But in all cases it is not that the noble nature
loves monotony, any more than it loves darkness or pain. But it can bear
with it, and receives a high pleasure in the endurance or patience, a
pleasure necessary to the well-being of this world; while those who will
not submit to the temporary sameness, but rush from one change to
another, gradually dull the edge of change itself, and bring a shadow
and weariness over the whole world from which there is no more escape.

§ XXXVIII. From these general uses of variety in the economy of the
world, we may at once understand its use and abuse in architecture. The
variety of the Gothic schools is the more healthy and beautiful, because
in many cases it is entirely unstudied, and results, not from the mere
love of change, but from practical necessities. For in one point of view
Gothic is not only the best, but the _only rational_ architecture, as
being that which can fit itself most easily to all services, vulgar or
noble. Undefined in its slope of roof, height of shaft, breadth of arch,
or disposition of ground plan, it can shrink into a turret, expand into
a hall, coil into a staircase, or spring into a spire, with undegraded
grace and unexhausted energy; and whenever it finds occasion for change
in its form or purpose, it submits to it without the slightest sense of
loss either to its unity or majesty,--subtle and flexible like a fiery
serpent, but ever attentive to the voice of the charmer. And it is one
of the chief virtues of the Gothic builders, that they never suffered
ideas of outside symmetries and consistencies to interfere with the real
use and value of what they did. If they wanted a window, they opened
one; a room, they added one; a buttress, they built one; utterly
regardless of any established conventionalities of external appearance,
knowing (as indeed it always happened) that such daring interruptions of
the formal plan would rather give additional interest to its symmetry
than injure it. So that, in the best times of Gothic, a useless window
would rather have been opened in an unexpected place for the sake of the
surprise, than a useful one forbidden for the sake of symmetry. Every
successive architect, employed upon a great work, built the pieces he
added in his own way, utterly regardless of the style adopted by his
predecessors; and if two towers were raised in nominal correspondence at
the sides of a cathedral front, one was nearly sure to be different from
the other, and in each the style at the top to be different from the
style at the bottom.[59]

§ XXXIX. These marked variations were, however, only permitted as part
of the great system of perpetual change which ran through every member
of Gothic design, and rendered it as endless a field for the beholder's
inquiry, as for the builder's imagination: change, which in the best
schools is subtle and delicate, and rendered more delightful by
intermingling of a noble monotony; in the more barbaric schools is
somewhat fantastic and redundant; but, in all, a necessary and constant
condition of the life of the school. Sometimes the variety is in one
feature, sometimes in another; it may be in the capitals or crockets, in
the niches or the traceries, or in all together, but in some one or
other of the features it will be found always. If the mouldings are
constant, the surface sculpture will change; if the capitals are of a
fixed design, the traceries will change; if the traceries are
monotonous, the capitals will change; and if even, as in some fine
schools, the early English for example, there is the slightest
approximation to an unvarying type of mouldings, capitals, and floral
decoration, the variety is found in the disposition of the masses, and
in the figure sculpture.

§ XL. I must now refer for a moment, before we quit the consideration of
this, the second mental element of Gothic, to the opening of the third
chapter of the "Seven Lamps of Architecture," in which the distinction
was drawn (§ 2) between man gathering and man governing; between his
acceptance of the sources of delight from nature, and his developement
of authoritative or imaginative power in their arrangement: for the two
mental elements, not only of Gothic, but of all good architecture, which
we have just been examining, belong to it, and are admirable in it,
chiefly as it is, more than any other subject of art, the work of man,
and the expression of the average power of man. A picture or poem is
often little more than a feeble utterance of man's admiration of
something out of himself; but architecture approaches more to a creation
of his own, born of his necessities, and expressive of his nature. It is
also, in some sort, the work of the whole race, while the picture or
statue are the work of one only, in most cases more highly gifted than
his fellows. And therefore we may expect that the first two elements of
good architecture should be expressive of some great truths commonly
belonging to the whole race, and necessary to be understood or felt by
them in all their work that they do under the sun. And observe what they
are: the confession of Imperfection and the confession of Desire of
Change. The building of the bird and the bee needs not express anything
like this. It is perfect and unchanging. But just because we are
something better than birds or bees, our building must confess that we
have not reached the perfection we can imagine, and cannot rest in the
condition we have attained. If we pretend to have reached either
perfection or satisfaction, we have degraded ourselves and our work.
God's work only may express that; but ours may never have that sentence
written upon it,--"And behold, it was very good." And, observe again,
it is not merely as it renders the edifice a book of various knowledge,
or a mine of precious thought, that variety is essential to its
nobleness. The vital principle is not the love of _Knowledge_, but the
love of _Change_. It is that strange _disquietude_ of the Gothic spirit
that is its greatness; that restlessness of the dreaming mind, that
wanders hither and thither among the niches, and flickers feverishly
around the pinnacles, and frets and fades in labyrinthine knots and
shadows along wall and roof, and yet is not satisfied, nor shall be
satisfied. The Greek could stay in his triglyph furrow, and be at peace;
but the work of the Gothic heart is fretwork still, and it can neither
rest in, nor from, its labor, but must pass on, sleeplessly, until its
love of change shall be pacified for ever in the change that must come
alike on them that wake and them that sleep.

§ XLI. The third constituent element of the Gothic mind was stated to be
NATURALISM; that is to say, the love of natural objects for their own
sake, and the effort to represent them frankly, unconstrained by
artistical laws.

This characteristic of the style partly follows in necessary connexion
with those named above. For, so soon as the workman is left free to
represent what subjects he chooses, he must look to the nature that is
round him for material, and will endeavor to represent it as he sees it,
with more or less accuracy according to the skill he possesses, and with
much play of fancy, but with small respect for law. There is, however, a
marked distinction between the imaginations of the Western and Eastern
races, even when both are left free; the Western, or Gothic, delighting
most in the representation of facts, and the Eastern (Arabian, Persian,
and Chinese) in the harmony of colors and forms. Each of these
intellectual dispositions has its particular forms of error and abuse,
which, though I have often before stated, I must here again briefly
explain; and this the rather, because the word Naturalism is, in one of
its senses, justly used as a term of reproach, and the questions
respecting the real relations of art and nature are so many and so
confused throughout all the schools of Europe at this day, that I
cannot clearly enunciate any single truth without appearing to admit, in
fellowship with it, some kind of error, unless the reader will bear with
me in entering into such an analysis of the subject as will serve us for
general guidance.

§ XLII. We are to remember, in the first place, that the arrangement of
colors and lines is an art analogous to the composition[60] of music,
and entirely independent of the representation of facts. Good coloring
does not necessarily convey the image of anything but itself. It
consists in certain proportions and arrangements of rays of light, but
not in likenesses to anything. A few touches of certain greys and
purples laid by a master's hand on white paper, will be good coloring;
as more touches are added beside them, we may find out that they were
intended to represent a dove's neck, and we may praise, as the drawing
advances, the perfect imitation of the dove's neck. But the good
coloring does not consist in that imitation, but in the abstract
qualities and relations of the grey and purple.

In like manner, as soon as a great sculptor begins to shape his work out
of the block, we shall see that its lines are nobly arranged, and of
noble character. We may not have the slightest idea for what the forms
are intended, whether they are of man or beast, of vegetation or
drapery. Their likeness to anything does not affect their nobleness.
They are magnificent forms, and that is all we need care to know of
them, in order to say whether the workman is a good or bad sculptor.

§ XLIII. Now the noblest art is an exact unison of the abstract value,
with the imitative power, of forms and colors. It is the noblest
composition, used to express the noblest facts. But the human mind
cannot in general unite the two perfections: it either pursues the fact
to the neglect of the composition, or pursues the composition to the
neglect of the fact.

§ XLIV. And it is intended by the Deity that it _should_ do this; the
best art is not always wanted. Facts are often wanted without art, as in
a geological diagram; and art often without facts, as in a Turkey
carpet. And most men have been made capable of giving either one or the
other, but not both; only one or two, the very highest, can give both.

Observe then. Men are universally divided, as respects their artistical
qualifications, into three great classes; a right, a left, and a centre.
On the right side are the men of facts, on the left the men of
design,[61] in the centre the men of both.

The three classes of course pass into each other by imperceptible
gradations. The men of facts are hardly ever altogether without powers
of design; the men of design are always in some measure cognizant of
facts; and as each class possesses more or less of the powers of the
opposite one, it approaches to the character of the central class. Few
men, even in that central rank, are so exactly throned on the summit of
the crest that they cannot be perceived to incline in the least one way
or the other, embracing both horizons with their glance. Now each of
these classes has, as I above said, a healthy function in the world, and
correlative diseases or unhealthy functions; and, when the work of
either of them is seen in its morbid condition, we are apt to find fault
with the class of workmen, instead of finding fault only with the
particular abuse which has perverted their action.

§ XLV. Let us first take an instance of the healthy action of the three
classes on a simple subject, so as fully to understand the distinction
between them, and then we shall more easily examine the corruptions to
which they are liable. Fig. 1 in Plate VI. is a spray of vine with a
bough of cherry-tree, which I have outlined from nature as accurately as
I could, without in the least endeavoring to compose or arrange the
form. It is a simple piece of fact-work, healthy and good as such, and
useful to any one who wanted to know plain truths about tendrils of
vines, but there is no attempt at design in it. Plate XIX., below,
represents a branch of vine used to decorate the angle of the Ducal
Palace. It is faithful as a representation of vine, and yet so designed
that every leaf serves an architectural purpose, and could not be spared
from its place without harm. This is central work; fact and design
together. Fig. 2 in Plate VI. is a spandril from St. Mark's, in which
the forms of the vine are dimly suggested, the object of the design
being merely to obtain graceful lines and well proportioned masses upon
the gold ground. There is not the least attempt to inform the spectator
of any facts about the growth of the vine; there are no stalks or
tendrils,--merely running bands with leaves emergent from them, of which
nothing but the outline is taken from the vine, and even that
imperfectly. This is design, unregardful of facts.

Now the work is, in all these three cases, perfectly healthy. Fig. 1 is
not bad work because it has not design, nor Fig. 2 bad work because it
has not facts. The object of the one is to give pleasure through truth,
and of the other to give pleasure through composition. And both are

What, then, are the diseased operations to which the three classes of
workmen are liable?

§ XLVI. Primarily, two; affecting the two inferior classes:

1st, When either of those two classes Despises the other:

2nd, When either of the two classes Envies the other; producing,
therefore, four forms of dangerous error.

First, when the men of facts despise design. This is the error of the
common Dutch painters, of merely imitative painters of still life,
flowers, &c., and other men who, having either the gift of accurate
imitation or strong sympathies with nature, suppose that all is done
when the imitation is perfected or sympathy expressed. A large body of
English landscapists come into this class, including most clever
sketchers from nature, who fancy that to get a sky of true tone, and a
gleam of sunshine or sweep of shower faithfully expressed, is all that
can be required of art. These men are generally themselves answerable
for much of their deadness of feeling to the higher qualities of
composition. They probably have not originally the high gifts of design,
but they lose such powers as they originally possessed by despising, and
refusing to study, the results of great power of design in others. Their
knowledge, as far as it goes, being accurate, they are usually
presumptuous and self-conceited, and gradually become incapable of
admiring anything but what is like their own works. They see nothing in
the works of great designers but the faults, and do harm almost
incalculable in the European society of the present day by sneering at
the compositions of the greatest men of the earlier ages,[62] because
they do not absolutely tally with their own ideas of "Nature."

§ XLVII. The second form of error is when the men of design despise
facts. All noble design must deal with facts to a certain extent, for
there is no food for it but in nature. The best colorist invents best by
taking hints from natural colors; from birds, skies, or groups of
figures. And if, in the delight of inventing fantastic color and form
the truths of nature are wilfully neglected, the intellect becomes
comparatively decrepit, and that state of art results which we find
among the Chinese. The Greek designers delighted in the facts of the
human form, and became great in consequence; but the facts of lower
nature were disregarded by them, and their inferior ornament became,
therefore, dead and valueless.

§ XLVIII. The third form of error is when the men of facts envy design:
that is to say, when, having only imitative powers, they refuse to
employ those powers upon the visible world around them; but, having been
taught that composition is the end of art, strive to obtain the
inventive powers which nature has denied them, study nothing but the
works of reputed designers, and perish in a fungous growth of plagiarism
and laws of art.

Here was the great error of the beginning of this century; it is the
error of the meanest kind of men that employ themselves in painting, and
it is the most fatal of all, rendering those who fall into it utterly
useless, incapable of helping the world with either truth or fancy,
while, in all probability, they deceive it by base resemblances of both,
until it hardly recognizes truth or fancy when they really exist.

§ XLIX. The fourth form of error is when the men of design envy facts;
that is to say, when the temptation of closely imitating nature leads
them to forget their own proper ornamental function, and when they lose
the power of the composition for the sake of graphic truth; as, for
instance, in the hawthorn moulding so often spoken of round the porch of
Bourges Cathedral, which, though very lovely, might perhaps, as we saw
above, have been better, if the old builder, in his excessive desire to
make it look like hawthorn, had not painted it green.

§ L. It is, however, carefully to be noted, that the two morbid
conditions to which the men of facts are liable are much more dangerous
and harmful than those to which the men of design are liable. The morbid
state of men of design injures themselves only; that of the men of facts
injures the whole world. The Chinese porcelain-painter is, indeed, not
so great a man as he might be, but he does not want to break everything
that is not porcelain; but the modern English fact-hunter, despising
design, wants to destroy everything that does not agree with his own
notions of truth, and becomes the most dangerous and despicable of
iconoclasts, excited by egotism instead of religion. Again: the Bourges
sculptor, painting his hawthorns green, did indeed somewhat hurt the
effect of his own beautiful design, but did not prevent any one from
loving hawthorn: but Sir George Beaumont, trying to make Constable paint
grass brown _instead_ of green, was setting himself between Constable
and nature, blinding the painter, and blaspheming the work of God.

§ LI. So much, then, of the diseases of the inferior classes, caused by
their envying or despising each other. It is evident that the men of the
central class cannot be liable to any morbid operation of this kind,
they possessing the powers of both.

But there is another order of diseases which affect all the three
classes, considered with respect to their pursuit of facts. For observe,
all the three classes are in some degree pursuers of facts; even the men
of design not being in any case altogether independent of external
truth. Now, considering them _all_ as more or less searchers after
truth, there is another triple division to be made of them. Everything
presented to them in nature has good and evil mingled in it: and
artists, considered as searchers after truth, are again to be divided
into three great classes, a right, a left, and a centre. Those on the
right perceive, and pursue, the good, and leave the evil: those in the
centre, the greatest, perceive and pursue the good and evil together,
the whole thing as it verily is: those on the left perceive and pursue
the evil, and leave the good.

§ LII. The first class, I say, take the good and leave the evil. Out of
whatever is presented to them, they gather what it has of grace, and
life, and light, and holiness, and leave all, or at least as much as
possible, of the rest undrawn. The faces of their figures express no
evil passions; the skies of their landscapes are without storm; the
prevalent character of their color is brightness, and of their
chiaroscuro fulness of light. The early Italian and Flemish painters,
Angelico and Hemling, Perugino, Francia, Raffaelle in his best time,
John Bellini, and our own Stothard, belong eminently to this class.

§ LIII. The second, or greatest class, render all that they see in
nature unhesitatingly, with a kind of divine grasp and government of the
whole, sympathizing with all the good, and yet confessing, permitting,
and bringing good out of the evil also. Their subject is infinite as
nature, their color equally balanced between splendor and sadness,
reaching occasionally the highest degrees of both, and their chiaroscuro
equally balanced between light and shade.

The principal men of this class are Michael Angelo, Leonardo, Giotto,
Tintoret, and Turner. Raffaelle in his second time, Titian, and Rubens
are transitional; the first inclining to the eclectic, and the last two
to the impure class, Raffaelle rarely giving all the evil, Titian and
Rubens rarely all the good.

§ LIV. The last class perceive and imitate evil only. They cannot draw
the trunk of a tree without blasting and shattering it, nor a sky except
covered with stormy clouds: they delight in the beggary and brutality of
the human race; their color is for the most part subdued or lurid, and
the greatest spaces of their pictures are occupied by darkness.

Happily the examples of this class are seldom seen in perfection.
Salvator Rosa and Caravaggio are the most characteristic: the other men
belonging to it approach towards the central rank by imperceptible
gradations, as they perceive and represent more and more of good. But
Murillo, Zurbaran, Camillo Procaccini, Rembrandt, and Teniers, all
belong naturally to this lower class.

§ LV. Now, observe: the three classes into which artists were previously
divided, of men of fact, men of design, and men of both, are all of
Divine institution; but of these latter three, the last is in no wise of
Divine institution. It is entirely human, and the men who belong to it
have sunk into it by their own faults. They are, so far forth, either
useless or harmful men. It is indeed good that evil should be
occasionally represented, even in its worst forms, but never that it
should be taken delight in: and the mighty men of the central class will
always give us all that is needful of it; sometimes, as Hogarth did,
dwelling upon it bitterly as satirists,--but this with the more effect,
because they will neither exaggerate it, nor represent it mercilessly,
and without the atoning points that all evil shows to a Divinely guided
glance, even at its deepest. So then, though the third class will
always, I fear, in some measure exist, the two necessary classes are
only the first two; and this is so far acknowledged by the general sense
of men, that the basest class has been confounded with the second; and
painters have been divided commonly only into two ranks, now known, I
believe, throughout Europe by the names which they first received in
Italy, "Puristi and Naturalisti." Since, however, in the existing state
of things, the degraded or evil-loving class, though less defined than
that of the Puristi, is just as vast as it is indistinct, this division
has done infinite dishonor to the great faithful painters of nature: and
it has long been one of the objects I have had most at heart to show
that, in reality, the Purists, in their sanctity, are less separated
from these natural painters than the Sensualists in their foulness; and
that the difference, though less discernible, is in reality greater,
between the man who pursues evil for its own sake, and him who bears
with it for the sake of truth, than between this latter and the man who
will not endure it at all.

§ LVI. Let us, then, endeavor briefly to mark the real relations of
these three vast ranks of men, whom I shall call, for convenience in
speaking of them, Purists, Naturalists, and Sensualists; not that these
terms express their real characters, but I know no word, and cannot coin
a convenient one, which would accurately express the opposite of Purist;
and I keep the terms Purist and Naturalist in order to comply, as far as
possible, with the established usage of language on the Continent. Now,
observe: in saying that nearly everything presented to us in nature has
mingling in it of good and evil, I do not mean that nature is
conceivably improvable, or that anything that God has made could be
called evil, if we could see far enough into its uses, but that, with
respect to immediate effects or appearances, it may be so, just as the
hard rind or bitter kernel of a fruit may be an evil to the eater,
though in the one is the protection of the fruit, and in the other its
continuance. The Purist, therefore, does not mend nature, but receives
from nature and from God that which is good for him; while the
Sensualist fills himself "with the husks that the swine did eat."

The three classes may, therefore, be likened to men reaping wheat, of
which the Purists take the fine flour, and the Sensualists the chaff and
straw, but the Naturalists take all home, and make their cake of the
one, and their couch of the other.

§ LVII. For instance. We know more certainly every day that whatever
appears to us harmful in the universe has some beneficent or necessary
operation; that the storm which destroys a harvest brightens the
sunbeams for harvests yet unsown, and that the volcano which buries a
city preserves a thousand from destruction. But the evil is not for the
time less fearful, because we have learned it to be necessary; and we
easily understand the timidity or the tenderness of the spirit which
would withdraw itself from the presence of destruction, and create in
its imagination a world of which the peace should be unbroken, in which
the sky should not darken nor the sea rage, in which the leaf should not
change nor the blossom wither. That man is greater, however, who
contemplates with an equal mind the alternations of terror and of
beauty; who, not rejoicing less beneath the sunny sky, can bear also to
watch the bars of twilight narrowing on the horizon; and, not less
sensible to the blessing of the peace of nature, can rejoice in the
magnificence of the ordinances by which that peace is protected and
secured. But separated from both by an immeasurable distance would be
the man who delighted in convulsion and disease for their own sake; who
found his daily food in the disorder of nature mingled with the
suffering of humanity; and watched joyfully at the right hand of the
Angel whose appointed work is to destroy as well as to accuse, while the
corners of the House of feasting were struck by the wind from the

§ LVIII. And far more is this true, when the subject of contemplation is
humanity itself. The passions of mankind are partly protective, partly
beneficent, like the chaff and grain of the corn; but none without their
use, none without nobleness when seen in balanced unity with the rest
of the spirit which they are charged to defend. The passions of which
the end is the continuance of the race; the indignation which is to arm
it against injustice, or strengthen it to resist wanton injury; and the
fear[63] which lies at the root of prudence, reverence, and awe, are all
honorable and beautiful, so long as man is regarded in his relations to
the existing world. The religious Purist, striving to conceive him
withdrawn from those relations, effaces from the countenance the traces
of all transitory passion, illumines it with holy hope and love, and
seals it with the serenity of heavenly peace; he conceals the forms of
the body by the deep-folded garment, or else represents them under
severely chastened types, and would rather paint them emaciated by the
fast, or pale from the torture, than strengthened by exertion, or
flushed by emotion. But the great Naturalist takes the human being in
its wholeness, in its mortal as well as its spiritual strength. Capable
of sounding and sympathizing with the whole range of its passions, he
brings one majestic harmony out of them all; he represents it fearlessly
in all its acts and thoughts, in its haste, its anger, its sensuality,
and its pride, as well as in its fortitude or faith, but makes it noble
in them all; he casts aside the veil from the body, and beholds the
mysteries of its form like an angel looking down on an inferior
creature: there is nothing which he is reluctant to behold, nothing that
he is ashamed to confess; with all that lives, triumphing, falling, or
suffering, he claims kindred, either in majesty or in mercy, yet
standing, in a sort, afar off, unmoved even in the deepness of his
sympathy; for the spirit within him is too thoughtful to be grieved, too
brave to be appalled, and too pure to be polluted.

§ LIX. How far beneath these two ranks of men shall we place, in the
scale of being, those whose pleasure is only in sin or in suffering; who
habitually contemplate humanity in poverty or decrepitude, fury or
sensuality; whose works are either temptations to its weakness, or
triumphs over its ruin, and recognize no other subjects for thought or
admiration than the subtlety of the robber, the rage of the soldier, or
the joy of the Sybarite. It seems strange, when thus definitely stated,
that such a school should exist. Yet consider a little what gaps and
blanks would disfigure our gallery and chamber walls, in places that we
have long approached with reverence, if every picture, every statue,
were removed from them, of which the subject was either the vice or the
misery of mankind, portrayed without any moral purpose: consider the
innumerable groups having reference merely to various forms of passion,
low or high; drunken revels and brawls among peasants, gambling or
fighting scenes among soldiers, amours and intrigues among every class,
brutal battle pieces, banditti subjects, gluts of torture and death in
famine, wreck, or slaughter, for the sake merely of the
excitement,--that quickening and suppling of the dull spirit that cannot
be gained for it but by bathing it in blood, afterward to wither back
into stained and stiffened apathy; and then that whole vast false heaven
of sensual passion, full of nymphs, satyrs, graces, goddesses, and I
know not what, from its high seventh circle in Correggio's Antiope, down
to the Grecized ballet-dancers and smirking Cupids of the Parisian
upholsterer. Sweep away all this, remorselessly, and see how much art we
should have left.

§ LX. And yet these are only the grossest manifestations of the tendency
of the school. There are subtler, yet not less certain, signs of it in
the works of men who stand high in the world's list of sacred painters.
I doubt not that the reader was surprised when I named Murillo among the
men of this third rank. Yet, go into the Dulwich Gallery, and meditate
for a little over that much celebrated picture of the two beggar boys,
one eating lying on the ground, the other standing beside him. We have
among our own painters one who cannot indeed be set beside Murillo as a
painter of Madonnas, for he is a pure Naturalist, and, never having seen
a Madonna, does not paint any; but who, as a painter of beggar or
peasant boys, may be set beside Murillo, or any one else,--W. Hunt. He
loves peasant boys, because he finds them more roughly and picturesquely
dressed, and more healthily colored, than others. And he paints all
that he sees in them fearlessly; all the health and humor, and
freshness, and vitality, together with such awkwardness and stupidity,
and what else of negative or positive harm there may be in the creature;
but yet so that on the whole we love it, and find it perhaps even
beautiful, or if not, at least we see that there is capability of good
in it, rather than of evil; and all is lighted up by a sunshine and
sweet color that makes the smock-frock as precious as cloth of gold. But
look at those two ragged and vicious vagrants that Murillo has gathered
out of the street. You smile at first, because they are eating so
naturally, and their roguery is so complete. But is there anything else
than roguery there, or was it well for the painter to give his time to
the painting of those repulsive and wicked children? Do you feel moved
with any charity towards children as you look at them? Are we the least
more likely to take any interest in ragged schools, or to help the next
pauper child that comes in our way, because the painter has shown us a
cunning beggar feeding greedily? Mark the choice of the act. He might
have shown hunger in other ways, and given interest to even this act of
eating, by making the face wasted, or the eye wistful. But he did not
care to do this. He delighted merely in the disgusting manner of eating,
the food filling the cheek; the boy is not hungry, else he would not
turn round to talk and grin as he eats.

§ LXI. But observe another point in the lower figure. It lies so that
the sole of the foot is turned towards the spectator; not because it
would have lain less easily in another attitude, but that the painter
may draw, and exhibit, the grey dust engrained in the foot. Do not call
this the painting of nature: it is mere delight in foulness. The lesson,
if there be any, in the picture, is not one whit the stronger. We all
know that a beggar's bare foot cannot be clean; there is no need to
thrust its degradation into the light, as if no human imagination were
vigorous enough for its conception.

§ LXII. The position of the Sensualists, in treatment of landscape, is
less distinctly marked than in that of the figure: because even the
wildest passions of nature are noble: but the inclination is manifested
by carelessness in marking generic form in trees and flowers: by their
preferring confused and irregular arrangements of foliage or foreground
to symmetrical and simple grouping; by their general choice of such
picturesqueness as results from decay, disorder, and disease, rather
than of that which is consistent with the perfection of the things in
which it is found; and by their imperfect rendering of the elements of
strength and beauty in all things. I propose to work out this subject
fully in the last volume of "Modern Painters;" but I trust that enough
has been here said to enable the reader to understand the relations of
the three great classes of artists, and therefore also the kinds of
morbid condition into which the two higher (for the last has no other
than a morbid condition) are liable to fall. For, since the function of
the Naturalists is to represent, as far as may be, the whole of nature,
and the Purists to represent what is absolutely good for some special
purpose or time, it is evident that both are liable to error from
shortness of sight, and the last also from weakness of judgment. I say,
in the first place, both may err from shortness of sight, from not
seeing all that there is in nature; seeing only the outsides of things,
or those points of them which bear least on the matter in hand. For
instance, a modern continental Naturalist sees the anatomy of a limb
thoroughly, but does not see its color against the sky, which latter
fact is to a painter far the more important of the two. And because it
is always easier to see the surface than the depth of things, the full
sight of them requiring the highest powers of penetration, sympathy, and
imagination, the world is full of vulgar Naturalists: not Sensualists,
observe, not men who delight in evil; but men who never see the deepest
good, and who bring discredit on all painting of Nature by the little
that they discover in her. And the Purist, besides being liable to this
same shortsightedness, is liable also to fatal errors of judgment; for
he may think that good which is not so, and that the highest good which
is the least. And thus the world is full of vulgar Purists,[64] who
bring discredit on all selection by the silliness of their choice; and
this the more, because the very becoming a Purist is commonly indicative
of some slight degree of weakness, readiness to be offended, or
narrowness of understanding of the ends of things: the greatest men
being, in all times of art, Naturalists, without any exception; and the
greatest Purists being those who approach nearest to the Naturalists, as
Benozzo Gozzoli and Perugino. Hence there is a tendency in the
Naturalists to despise the Purists, and in the Purists to be offended
with the Naturalists (not understanding them, and confounding them with
the Sensualists); and this is grievously harmful to both.

§ LXIII. Of the various forms of resultant mischief it is not here the
place to speak: the reader may already be somewhat wearied with a
statement which has led us apparently so far from our immediate subject.
But the digression was necessary, in order that I might clearly define
the sense in which I use the word Naturalism when I state it to be the
third most essential characteristic of Gothic architecture. I mean that
the Gothic builders belong to the central or greatest rank in _both_ the
classifications of artists which we have just made; that, considering
all artists as either men of design, men of facts, or men of both, the
Gothic builders were men of both; and that again, considering all
artists as either Purists, Naturalists, or Sensualists, the Gothic
builders were Naturalists.

§ LXIV. I say first, that the Gothic builders were of that central class
which unites fact with design; but that the part of the work which was
more especially their own was the truthfulness. Their power of
artistical invention or arrangement was not greater than that of
Romanesque and Byzantine workmen: by those workmen they were taught the
principles, and from them received their models, of design; but to the
ornamental feeling and rich fancy of the Byzantine the Gothic builder
added a love of _fact_ which is never found in the South. Both Greek and
Roman used conventional foliage in their ornament, passing into
something that was not foliage at all, knotting itself into strange
cup-like buds or clusters, and growing out of lifeless rods instead of
stems; the Gothic sculptor received these types, at first, as things
that ought to be, just as we have a second time received them; but he
could not rest in them. He saw there was no veracity in them, no
knowledge, no vitality. Do what he would, he could not help liking the
true leaves better; and cautiously, a little at a time, he put more of
nature into his work, until at last it was all true, retaining,
nevertheless, every valuable character of the original well-disciplined
and designed arrangement.[65]

§ LXV. Nor is it only in external and visible subject that the Gothic
workman wrought for truth: he is as firm in his rendering of imaginative
as of actual truth; that is to say, when an idea would have been by a
Roman, or Byzantine, symbolically represented, the Gothic mind realizes
it to the utmost. For instance, the purgatorial fire is represented in
the mosaic of Torcello (Romanesque) as a red stream, longitudinally
striped like a riband, descending out of the throne of Christ, and
gradually extending itself to envelope the wicked. When we are once
informed what this means, it is enough for its purpose; but the Gothic
inventor does not leave the sign in need of interpretation. He makes the
fire as like real fire as he can; and in the porch of St. Maclou at
Rouen the sculptured flames burst out of the Hades gate, and flicker up,
in writhing tongues of stone, through the interstices of the niches, as
if the church itself were on fire. This is an extreme instance, but it
is all the more illustrative of the entire difference in temper and
thought between the two schools of art, and of the intense love of
veracity which influenced the Gothic design.

§ LXVI. I do not say that this love of veracity is always healthy in its
operation. I have above noticed the errors into which it falls from
despising design; and there is another kind of error noticeable in the
instance just given, in which the love of truth is too hasty, and seizes
on a surface truth instead of an inner one. For in representing the
Hades fire, it is not the mere _form_ of the flame which needs most to
be told, but its unquenchableness, its Divine ordainment and limitation,
and its inner fierceness, not physical and material, but in being the
expression of the wrath of God. And these things are not to be told by
imitating the fire that flashes out of a bundle of sticks. If we think
over his symbol a little, we shall perhaps find that the Romanesque
builder told more truth in that likeness of a blood-red stream, flowing
between definite shores and out of God's throne, and expanding, as if
fed by a perpetual current, into the lake wherein the wicked are cast,
than the Gothic builder in those torch-flickerings about his niches. But
this is not to our immediate purpose; I am not at present to insist upon
the faults into which the love of truth was led in the later Gothic
times, but on the feeling itself, as a glorious and peculiar
characteristic of the Northern builders. For, observe, it is not, even
in the above instance, love of truth, but want of thought, which
_causes_ the fault. The love of truth, as such, is good, but when it is
misdirected by thoughtlessness or over-excited by vanity, and either
seizes on facts of small value, or gathers them chiefly that it may
boast of its grasp and apprehension, its work may well become dull or
offensive. Yet let us not, therefore, blame the inherent love of facts,
but the incautiousness of their selection, and impertinence of their

§ LXVII. I said, in the second place, that Gothic work, when referred to
the arrangement of all art, as purist, naturalist, or sensualist, was
naturalist. This character follows necessarily on its extreme love of
truth, prevailing over the sense of beauty, and causing it to take
delight in portraiture of every kind, and to express the various
characters of the human countenance and form, as it did the varieties of
leaves and the ruggedness of branches. And this tendency is both
increased and ennobled by the same Christian humility which we saw
expressed in the first character of Gothic work, its rudeness. For as
that resulted from a humility which confessed the imperfection of the
_workman_, so this naturalist portraiture is rendered more faithful by
the humility which confesses the imperfection of the _subject_. The
Greek sculptor could neither bear to confess his own feebleness, nor to
tell the faults of the forms that he portrayed. But the Christian
workman, believing that all is finally to work together for good, freely
confesses both, and neither seeks to disguise his own roughness of work,
nor his subject's roughness of make. Yet this frankness being joined,
for the most part, with depth of religious feeling in other directions,
and especially with charity, there is sometimes a tendency to Purism in
the best Gothic sculpture; so that it frequently reaches great dignity
of form and tenderness of expression, yet never so as to lose the
veracity of portraiture, wherever portraiture is possible: not exalting
its kings into demi-gods, nor its saints into archangels, but giving
what kingliness and sanctity was in them, to the full, mixed with due
record of their faults; and this in the most part with a great
indifference like that of Scripture history, which sets down, with
unmoved and unexcusing resoluteness, the virtues and errors of all men
of whom it speaks, often leaving the reader to form his own estimate of
them, without an indication of the judgment of the historian. And this
veracity is carried out by the Gothic sculptors in the minuteness and
generality, as well as the equity, of their delineation: for they do not
limit their art to the portraiture of saints and kings, but introduce
the most familiar scenes and most simple subjects; filling up the
backgrounds of Scripture histories with vivid and curious
representations of the commonest incidents of daily life, and availing
themselves of every occasion in which, either as a symbol, or an
explanation of a scene or time, the things familiar to the eye of the
workman could be introduced and made of account. Hence Gothic sculpture
and painting are not only full of valuable portraiture of the greatest
men, but copious records of all the domestic customs and inferior arts
of the ages in which it flourished.[66]

§ LXVIII. There is, however, one direction in which the Naturalism of
the Gothic workmen is peculiarly manifested; and this direction is even
more characteristic of the school than the Naturalism itself; I mean
their peculiar fondness for the forms of Vegetation. In rendering the
various circumstances of daily life, Egyptian and Ninevite sculpture is
as frank and as diffuse as the Gothic. From the highest pomps of state
or triumphs of battle, to the most trivial domestic arts and amusements,
all is taken advantage of to fill the field of granite with the
perpetual interest of a crowded drama; and the early Lombardic and
Romanesque sculpture is equally copious in its description of the
familiar circumstances of war and the chase. But in all the scenes
portrayed by the workmen of these nations, vegetation occurs only as an
explanatory accessory; the reed is introduced to mark the course of the
river, or the tree to mark the covert of the wild beast, or the ambush
of the enemy, but there is no especial interest in the forms of the
vegetation strong enough to induce them to make it a subject of separate
and accurate study. Again, among the nations who followed the arts of
design exclusively, the forms of foliage introduced were meagre and
general, and their real intricacy and life were neither admired nor
expressed. But to the Gothic workman the living foliage became a subject
of intense affection, and he struggled to render all its characters with
as much accuracy as was compatible with the laws of his design and the
nature of his material, not unfrequently tempted in his enthusiasm to
transgress the one and disguise the other.

§ LXIX. There is a peculiar significancy in this, indicative both of
higher civilization and gentler temperament, than had before been
manifested in architecture. Rudeness, and the love of change, which we
have insisted upon as the first elements of Gothic, are also elements
common to all healthy schools. But here is a softer element mingled with
them, peculiar to the Gothic itself. The rudeness or ignorance which
would have been painfully exposed in the treatment of the human form,
are still not so great as to prevent the successful rendering of the
wayside herbage; and the love of change, which becomes morbid and
feverish in following the haste of the hunter, and the rage of the
combatant, is at once soothed and satisfied as it watches the wandering
of the tendril, and the budding of the flower. Nor is this all: the new
direction of mental interest marks an infinite change in the means and
the habits of life. The nations whose chief support was in the chase,
whose chief interest was in the battle, whose chief pleasure was in the
banquet, would take small care respecting the shapes of leaves and
flowers; and notice little in the forms of the forest trees which
sheltered them, except the signs indicative of the wood which would make
the toughest lance, the closest roof, or the clearest fire. The
affectionate observation of the grace and outward character of
vegetation is the sure sign of a more tranquil and gentle existence,
sustained by the gifts, and gladdened by the splendor, of the earth. In
that careful distinction of species, and richness of delicate and
undisturbed organization, which characterize the Gothic design, there is
the history of rural and thoughtful life, influenced by habitual
tenderness, and devoted to subtle inquiry; and every discriminating and
delicate touch of the chisel, as it rounds the petal or guides the
branch, is a prophecy of the developement of the entire body of the
natural sciences, beginning with that of medicine, of the recovery of
literature, and the establishment of the most necessary principles of
domestic wisdom and national peace.

§ LXX. I have before alluded to the strange and vain supposition, that
the original conception of Gothic architecture had been derived from
vegetation,--from the symmetry of avenues, and the interlacing of
branches. It is a supposition which never could have existed for a
moment in the mind of any person acquainted with early Gothic; but,
however idle as a theory, it is most valuable as a testimony to the
character of the perfected style. It is precisely because the reverse of
this theory is the fact, because the Gothic did not arise out of, but
develope itself into, a resemblance to vegetation, that this resemblance
is so instructive as an indication of the temper of the builders. It was
no chance suggestion of the form of an arch from the bending of a bough,
but a gradual and continual discovery of a beauty in natural forms which
could be more and more perfectly transferred into those of stone, that
influenced at once the heart of the people, and the form of the edifice.
The Gothic architecture arose in massy and mountainous strength,
axe-hewn, and iron-bound, block heaved upon block by the monk's
enthusiasm and the soldier's force; and cramped and stanchioned into
such weight of grisly wall, as might bury the anchoret in darkness, and
beat back the utmost storm of battle, suffering but by the same narrow
crosslet the passing of the sunbeam, or of the arrow. Gradually, as that
monkish enthusiasm became more thoughtful, and as the sound of war
became more and more intermittent beyond the gates of the convent or the
keep, the stony pillar grew slender and the vaulted roof grew light,
till they had wreathed themselves into the semblance of the summer woods
at their fairest, and of the dead field-flowers, long trodden down in
blood, sweet monumental statues were set to bloom for ever, beneath the
porch of the temple, or the canopy of the tomb.

§ LXXI. Nor is it only as a sign of greater gentleness or refinement of
mind, but as a proof of the best possible direction of this refinement,
that the tendency of the Gothic to the expression of vegetative life is
to be admired. That sentence of Genesis, "I have given thee every green
herb for meat," like all the rest of the book, has a profound symbolical
as well as a literal meaning. It is not merely the nourishment of the
body, but the food of the soul, that is intended. The green herb is, of
all nature, that which is most essential to the healthy spiritual life
of man. Most of us do not need fine scenery; the precipice and the
mountain peak are not intended to be seen by all men,--perhaps their
power is greatest over those who are unaccustomed to them. But trees,
and fields, and flowers were made for all, and are necessary for all.
God has connected the labor which is essential to the bodily sustenance,
with the pleasures which are healthiest for the heart; and while He made
the ground stubborn, He made its herbage fragrant, and its blossoms
fair. The proudest architecture that man can build has no higher honor
than to bear the image and recall the memory of that grass of the field
which is, at once, the type and the support of his existence; the goodly
building is then most glorious when it is sculptured into the likeness
of the leaves of Paradise; and the great Gothic spirit, as we showed it
to be noble in its disquietude, is also noble in its hold of nature; it
is, indeed, like the dove of Noah, in that she found no rest upon the
face of the waters,--but like her in this also, "LO, IN HER MOUTH WAS AN

§ LXXII. The fourth essential element of the Gothic mind was above
stated to be the sense of the GROTESQUE; but I shall defer the endeavor
to define this most curious and subtle character until we have occasion
to examine one of the divisions of the Renaissance schools, which was
morbidly influenced by it (Vol. III. Chap. III.). It is the less
necessary to insist upon it here, because every reader familiar with
Gothic architecture must understand what I mean, and will, I believe,
have no hesitation in admitting that the tendency to delight in
fantastic and ludicrous, as well as in sublime, images, is a universal
instinct of the Gothic imagination.

§ LXXIII. The fifth element above named was RIGIDITY; and this character
I must endeavor carefully to define, for neither the word I have used,
nor any other that I can think of, will express it accurately. For I
mean, not merely stable, but _active_ rigidity; the peculiar energy
which gives tension to movement, and stiffness to resistance, which
makes the fiercest lightning forked rather than curved, and the stoutest
oak-branch angular rather than bending, and is as much seen in the
quivering of the lance as in the glittering of the icicle.

§ LXXIV. I have before had occasion (Vol. I. Chap. XIII. § VII.) to note
some manifestations of this energy or fixedness; but it must be still
more attentively considered here, as it shows itself throughout the
whole structure and decoration of Gothic work. Egyptian and Greek
buildings stand, for the most part, by their own weight and mass, one
stone passively incumbent on another: but in the Gothic vaults and
traceries there is a stiffness analogous to that of the bones of a limb,
or fibres of a tree; an elastic tension and communication of force from
part to part, and also a studious expression of this throughout every
visible line of the building. And, in like manner, the Greek and
Egyptian ornament is either mere surface engraving, as if the face of
the wall had been stamped with a seal, or its lines are flowing, lithe,
and luxuriant; in either case, there is no expression of energy in
framework of the ornament itself. But the Gothic ornament stands out in
prickly independence, and frosty fortitude, jutting into crockets, and
freezing into pinnacles; here starting up into a monster, there
germinating into a blossom; anon knitting itself into a branch,
alternately thorny, bossy, and bristly, or writhed into every form of
nervous entanglement; but, even when most graceful, never for an instant
languid, always quickset; erring, if at all, ever on the side of

§ LXXV. The feelings or habits in the workman which give rise to this
character in the work, are more complicated and various than those
indicated by any other sculptural expression hitherto named. There is,
first, the habit of hard and rapid working; the industry of the tribes
of the North, quickened by the coldness of the climate, and giving an
expression of sharp energy to all they do (as above noted, Vol. I. Chap.
XIII. § VII.), as opposed to the languor of the Southern tribes, however
much of fire there may be in the heart of that languor, for lava itself
may flow languidly. There is also the habit of finding enjoyment in the
signs of cold, which is never found, I believe, in the inhabitants of
countries south of the Alps. Cold is to them an unredeemed evil, to be
suffered, and forgotten as soon as may be; but the long winter of the
North forces the Goth (I mean the Englishman, Frenchman, Dane, or
German), if he would lead a happy life at all, to find sources of
happiness in foul weather as well as fair, and to rejoice in the
leafless as well as in the shady forest. And this we do with all our
hearts; finding perhaps nearly as much contentment by the Christmas fire
as in the summer sunshine, and gaining health and strength on the
ice-fields of winter, as well as among the meadows of spring. So that
there is nothing adverse or painful to our feelings in the cramped and
stiffened structure of vegetation checked by cold; and instead of
seeking, like the Southern sculptor, to express only the softness of
leafage nourished in all tenderness, and tempted into all luxuriance by
warm winds and glowing rays, we find pleasure in dwelling upon the
crabbed, perverse, and morose animation of plants that have known little
kindness from earth or heaven, but, season after season, have had their
best efforts palsied by frost, their brightest buds buried under snow,
and their goodliest limbs lopped by tempest.

§ LXXVI. There are many subtle sympathies and affections which join to
confirm the Gothic mind in this peculiar choice of subject; and when we
add to the influence of these, the necessities consequent upon the
employment of a rougher material, compelling the workman to seek for
vigor of effect, rather than refinement of texture or accuracy of form,
we have direct and manifest causes for much of the difference between
the northern and southern cast of conception: but there are indirect
causes holding a far more important place in the Gothic heart, though
less immediate in their influence on design. Strength of will,
independence of character, resoluteness of purpose, impatience of undue
control, and that general tendency to set the individual reason against
authority, and the individual deed against destiny, which, in the
Northern tribes, has opposed itself throughout all ages to the languid
submission, in the Southern, of thought to tradition, and purpose to
fatality, are all more or less traceable in the rigid lines, vigorous
and various masses, and daringly projecting and independent structure of
the Northern Gothic ornament: while the opposite feelings are in like
manner legible in the graceful and softly guided waves and wreathed
bands, in which Southern decoration is constantly disposed; in its
tendency to lose its independence, and fuse itself into the surface of
the masses upon which it is traced; and in the expression seen so often,
in the arrangement of those masses themselves, of an abandonment of
their strength to an inevitable necessity, or a listless repose.

§ LXXVII. There is virtue in the measure, and error in the excess, of
both these characters of mind, and in both of the styles which they have
created; the best architecture, and the best temper, are those which
unite them both; and this fifth impulse of the Gothic heart is therefore
that which needs most caution in its indulgence. It is more definitely
Gothic than any other, but the best Gothic building is not that which is
_most_ Gothic: it can hardly be too frank in its confession of rudeness,
hardly too rich in its changefulness, hardly too faithful in its
naturalism; but it may go too far in its rigidity, and, like the great
Puritan spirit in its extreme, lose itself either in frivolity of
division, or perversity of purpose.[67] It actually did so in its later
times; but it is gladdening to remember that in its utmost nobleness,
the very temper which has been thought most adverse to it, the
Protestant spirit of self-dependence and inquiry, was expressed in its
every line. Faith and aspiration there were, in every Christian
ecclesiastical building, from the first century to the fifteenth; but
the moral habits to which England in this age owes the kind of greatness
that she has,--the habits of philosophical investigation, of accurate
thought, of domestic seclusion and independence, of stern self-reliance,
and sincere upright searching into religious truth,--were only traceable
in the features which were the distinctive creation of the Gothic
schools, in the veined foliage, and thorny fretwork, and shadowy niche,
and buttressed pier, and fearless height of subtle pinnacle and crested
tower, sent like an "unperplexed question up to Heaven."[68]

§ LXXVIII. Last, because the least essential, of the constituent
elements of this noble school, was placed that of REDUNDANCE,--the
uncalculating bestowal of the wealth of its labor. There is, indeed,
much Gothic, and that of the best period, in which this element is
hardly traceable, and which depends for its effect almost exclusively on
loveliness of simple design and grace of uninvolved proportion: still,
in the most characteristic buildings, a certain portion of their effect
depends upon accumulation of ornament; and many of those which have most
influence on the minds of men, have attained it by means of this
attribute alone. And although, by careful study of the school, it is
possible to arrive at a condition of taste which shall be better
contented by a few perfect lines than by a whole façade covered with
fretwork, the building which only satisfies such a taste is not to be
considered the best. For the very first requirement of Gothic
architecture being, as we saw above, that it shall both admit the aid,
and appeal to the admiration, of the rudest as well as the most refined
minds, the richness of the work is, paradoxical as the statement may
appear, a part of its humility. No architecture is so haughty as that
which is simple; which refuses to address the eye, except in a few clear
and forceful lines; which implies, in offering so little to our regards,
that all it has offered is perfect; and disdains, either by the
complexity or the attractiveness of its features, to embarrass our
investigation, or betray us into delight. That humility, which is the
very life of the Gothic school, is shown not only in the imperfection,
but in the accumulation, of ornament. The inferior rank of the workman
is often shown as much in the richness, as the roughness, of his work;
and if the co-operation of every hand, and the sympathy of every heart,
are to be received, we must be content to allow the redundance which
disguises the failure of the feeble, and wins the regard of the
inattentive. There are, however, far nobler interests mingling, in the
Gothic heart, with the rude love of decorative accumulation: a
magnificent enthusiasm, which feels as if it never could do enough to
reach the fulness of its ideal; an unselfishness of sacrifice, which
would rather cast fruitless labor before the altar than stand idle in
the market; and, finally, a profound sympathy with the fulness and
wealth of the material universe, rising out of that Naturalism whose
operation we have already endeavored to define. The sculptor who sought
for his models among the forest leaves, could not but quickly and deeply
feel that complexity need not involve the loss of grace, nor richness
that of repose; and every hour which he spent in the study of the minute
and various work of Nature, made him feel more forcibly the barrenness
of what was best in that of man: nor is it to be wondered at, that,
seeing her perfect and exquisite creations poured forth in a profusion
which conception could not grasp nor calculation sum, he should think
that it ill became him to be niggardly of his own rude craftsmanship;
and where he saw throughout the universe a faultless beauty lavished on
measureless spaces of broidered field and blooming mountain, to grudge
his poor and imperfect labor to the few stones that he had raised one
upon another, for habitation or memorial. The years of his life passed
away before his task was accomplished; but generation succeeded
generation with unwearied enthusiasm, and the cathedral front was at
last lost in the tapestry of its traceries, like a rock among the
thickets and herbage of spring.

§ LXXIX. We have now, I believe, obtained a view approaching to
completeness of the various moral or imaginative elements which composed
the inner spirit of Gothic architecture. We have, in the second place,
to define its outward form.

Now, as the Gothic spirit is made up of several elements, some of which
may, in particular examples, be wanting, so the Gothic form is made up
of minor conditions of form, some of which may, in particular examples,
be imperfectly developed.

We cannot say, therefore, that a building is either Gothic or not Gothic
in form, any more than we can in spirit. We can only say that it is more
or less Gothic, in proportion to the number of Gothic forms which it

§ LXXX. There have been made lately many subtle and ingenious endeavors
to base the definition of Gothic form entirely upon the roof-vaulting;
endeavors which are both forced and futile: for many of the best Gothic
buildings in the world have roofs of timber, which have no more
connexion with the main structure of the walls of the edifice than a hat
has with that of the head it protects; and other Gothic buildings are
merely enclosures of spaces, as ramparts and walls, or enclosures of
gardens or cloisters, and have no roofs at all, in the sense in which
the word "roof" is commonly accepted. But every reader who has ever
taken the slightest interest in architecture must know that there is a
great popular impression on this matter, which maintains itself stiffly
in its old form, in spite of all ratiocination and definition; namely,
that a flat lintel from pillar to pillar is Grecian, a round arch Norman
or Romanesque, and a pointed arch Gothic.

And the old popular notion, as far as it goes, is perfectly right, and
can never be bettered. The most striking outward feature in all Gothic
architecture is, that it is composed of pointed arches, as in Romanesque
that it is in like manner composed of round; and this distinction would
be quite as clear, though the roofs were taken off every cathedral in
Europe. And yet, if we examine carefully into the real force and meaning
of the term "roof" we shall perhaps be able to retain the old popular
idea in a definition of Gothic architecture which shall also express
whatever dependence that architecture has upon true forms of roofing.

§ LXXXI. In Chap. XIII. of the first volume, the reader will remember
that roofs were considered as generally divided into two parts; the roof
proper, that is to say, the shell, vault, or ceiling, internally
visible; and the roof-mask, which protects this lower roof from the
weather. In some buildings these parts are united in one framework; but,
in most, they are more or less independent of each other, and in nearly
all Gothic buildings there is considerable interval between them.

Now it will often happen, as above noticed, that owing to the nature of
the apartments required, or the materials at hand, the roof proper may
be flat, coved, or domed, in buildings which in their walls employ
pointed arches, and are, in the straitest sense of the word, Gothic in
all other respects. Yet so far forth as the roofing alone is concerned,
they are not Gothic unless the pointed arch be the principal form
adopted either in the stone vaulting or the timbers of the roof proper.

I shall say then, in the first place, that "Gothic architecture is that
which uses, if possible, the pointed arch in the roof proper." This is
the first step in our definition.

§ LXXXII. Secondly. Although there may be many advisable or necessary
forms for the lower roof or ceiling, there is, in cold countries exposed
to rain and snow, only one advisable form for the roof-mask, and that is
the gable, for this alone will throw off both rain and snow from all
parts of its surface as speedily as possible. Snow can lodge on the top
of a dome, not on the ridge of a gable. And thus, as far as roofing is
concerned, the gable is a far more essential feature of Northern
architecture than the pointed vault, for the one is a thorough
necessity, the other often a graceful conventionality: the gable occurs
in the timber roof of every dwelling-house and every cottage, but not
the vault; and the gable built on a polygonal or circular plan, is the
origin of the turret and spire;[69] and all the so-called aspiration of
Gothic architecture is, as above noticed (Vol. I. Chap. XII. § VI.),
nothing more than its developement. So that we must add to our
definition another clause, which will be, at present, by far the most
important, and it will stand thus: "Gothic architecture is that which
uses the pointed arch for the roof proper, and the gable for the

§ LXXXIII. And here, in passing, let us notice a principle as true in
architecture as in morals. It is not the _compelled_, but the _wilful_,
transgression of law which corrupts the character. Sin is not in the
act, but in the choice. It is a law for Gothic architecture, that it
shall use the pointed arch for its roof proper; but because, in many
cases of domestic building, this becomes impossible for want of room
(the whole height of the apartment being required everywhere), or in
various other ways inconvenient, flat ceilings may be used, and yet the
Gothic shall not lose its purity. But in the roof-mask, there can be no
necessity nor reason for a change of form: the gable is the best; and if
any other--dome, or bulging crown, or whatsoever else--be employed at
all, it must be in pure caprice, and wilful transgression of law. And
wherever, therefore, this is done, the Gothic has lost its character; it
is pure Gothic no more.

§ LXXXIV. And this last clause of the definition is to be more strongly
insisted upon, because it includes multitudes of buildings, especially
domestic, which are Gothic in spirit, but which we are not in the habit
of embracing in our general conception of Gothic architecture;
multitudes of street dwelling-houses and straggling country farm-houses,
built with little care for beauty, or observance of Gothic laws in
vaults or windows, and yet maintaining their character by the sharp and
quaint gables of the roofs. And, for the reason just given, a house is
far more Gothic which has square windows, and a boldly gabled roof, than
the one which has pointed arches for the windows, and a domed or flat
roof. For it often happened in the best Gothic times, as it must in all
times, that it was more easy and convenient to make a window square than
pointed; not but that, as above emphatically stated, the richness of
church architecture was also found in domestic; and systematically "when
the pointed arch was used in the church it was used in the street," only
in all times there were cases in which men could not build as they
would, and were obliged to construct their doors or windows in the
readiest way; and this readiest way was then, in small work, as it will
be to the end of time, to put a flat stone for a lintel and build the
windows as in Fig. VIII.; and the occurrence of such windows in a
building or a street will not un-Gothicize them, so long as the bold
gable roof be retained, and the spirit of the work be visibly Gothic in
other respects. But if the roof be wilfully and conspicuously of any
other form than the gable,--if it be domed, or Turkish, or Chinese,--the
building has positive corruption mingled with its Gothic elements, in
proportion to the conspicuousness of the roof; and, if not absolutely
un-Gothicized, can maintain its character only by such vigor of vital
Gothic energy in other parts as shall cause the roof to be forgotten,
thrown off like an eschar from the living frame. Nevertheless, we must
always admit that it _may_ be forgotten, and that if the Gothic seal be
indeed set firmly on the walls, we are not to cavil at the forms
reserved for the tiles and leads. For, observe, as our definition at
present stands, being understood of large roofs only, it will allow a
conical glass-furnace to be a Gothic building, but will _not_ allow so
much, either of the Duomo of Florence, or the Baptistery of Pisa. We
must either mend it, therefore, or understand it in some broader sense.

[Illustration: Fig. VIII.]

§ LXXXV. And now, if the reader will look back to the fifth paragraph of
Chap. III. Vol. I., he will find that I carefully extended my definition
of a roof so as to include more than is usually understood by the term.
It was there said to be the covering of a space, _narrow or wide_. It
does not in the least signify, with respect to the real nature of the
covering, whether the space protected be two feet wide, or ten; though
in the one case we call the protection an arch, in the other a vault or
roof. But the real point to be considered is, the manner in which this
protection stands, and not whether it is narrow or broad. We call the
vaulting of a bridge "an arch," because it is narrow with respect to the
river it crosses; but if it were built above us on the ground, we should
call it a waggon vault, because then we should feel the breadth of it.
The real question is the nature of the curve, not the extent of space
over which it is carried: and this is more the case with respect to
Gothic than to any other architecture; for, in the greater number of
instances, the form of the roof is entirely dependent on the ribs; the
domical shells being constructed in all kinds of inclinations, quite
undeterminable by the eye, and all that is definite in their character
being fixed by the curves of the ribs.

[Illustration: Fig. IX.]

§ LXXXVI. Let us then consider our definition as including the narrowest
arch, or tracery bar, as well as the broadest roof, and it will be
nearly a perfect one. For the fact is, that all good Gothic is nothing
more than the developement, in various ways, and on every conceivable
scale, of the group formed by the _pointed arch for the bearing line_
below, and _the gable for the protecting line_ above; and from the huge,
gray, shaly slope of the cathedral roof, with its elastic pointed vaults
beneath, to the slight crown-like points that enrich the smallest niche
of its doorway, one law and one expression will be found in all. The
modes of support and of decoration are infinitely various, but the real
character of the building, in all good Gothic, depends upon the single
lines of the gable over the pointed arch, Fig. IX., endlessly rearranged
or repeated. The larger woodcut, Fig. X., represents three
characteristic conditions of the treatment of the group: _a_, from a
tomb at Verona (1328); _b_, one of the lateral porches at Abbeville;
_c_, one of the uppermost points of the great western façade of Rouen
Cathedral; both these last being, I believe, early work of the fifteenth
century. The forms of the pure early English and French Gothic are too
well known to need any notice; my reason will appear presently for
choosing, by way of example, these somewhat rare conditions.

[Illustration: Fig. X.]

§ LXXXVII. But, first, let us try whether we cannot get the forms of the
other great architectures of the world broadly expressed by relations of
the same lines into which we have compressed the Gothic. We may easily
do this if the reader will first allow me to remind him of the true
nature of the pointed arch, as it was expressed in § X. Chap. X. of the
first volume. It was said there, that it ought to be called a "curved
gable," for, strictly speaking, an "arch" cannot be "pointed." The
so-called pointed arch ought always to be considered as a gable, with
its sides curved in order to enable them to bear pressure from without.
Thus considering it, there are but three ways in which an interval
between piers can be bridged,--the three ways represented by A, B, and
C, Fig. XI.,[70] on page 213,--A, the lintel; B, the round arch; C, the
gable. All the architects in the world will never discover any other
ways of bridging a space than these three; they may vary the curve of
the arch, or curve the sides of the gable, or break them; but in doing
this they are merely modifying or subdividing, not adding to the generic

§ LXXXVIII. Now there are three good architectures in the world, and
there never can be more, correspondent to each of these three simple
ways of covering in a space, which is the original function of all
architectures. And those three architectures are _pure_ exactly in
proportion to the simplicity and directness with which they express the
condition of roofing on which they are founded. They have many
interesting varieties, according to their scale, manner of decoration,
and character of the nations by whom they are practised, but all their
varieties are finally referable to the three great heads:--

  A, Greek: Architecture of the Lintel.
  B, Romanesque: Architecture of the Round Arch.
  C, Gothic: Architecture of the Gable.

[Illustration: Fig. XI.]

The three names, Greek, Romanesque, and Gothic, are indeed inaccurate
when used in this vast sense, because they imply national limitations;
but the three architectures may nevertheless not unfitly receive their
names from those nations by whom they were carried to the highest
perfections. We may thus briefly state their existing varieties.

§ LXXXIX. A. GREEK: Lintel Architecture. The worst of the three; and,
considered with reference to stone construction, always in some measure
barbarous. Its simplest type is Stonehenge; its most refined, the
Parthenon; its noblest, the Temple of Karnak.

In the hands of the Egyptian, it is sublime; in those of the Greek,
pure; in those of the Roman, rich; and in those of the Renaissance
builder, effeminate.

B. ROMANESQUE: Round-arch Architecture. Never thoroughly developed until
Christian times. It falls into two great branches, Eastern and Western,
or Byzantine and Lombardic; changing respectively in process of time,
with certain helps from each other, into Arabian Gothic and Teutonic
Gothic. Its most perfect Lombardic type is the Duomo of Pisa; its most
perfect Byzantine type (I believe), St. Mark's at Venice. Its highest
glory is, that it has no corruption. It perishes in giving birth to
another architecture as noble as itself.

C. GOTHIC: Architecture of the Gable. The daughter of the Romanesque;
and, like the Romanesque, divided into two great branches, Western and
Eastern, or pure Gothic and Arabian Gothic; of which the latter is
called Gothic, only because it has many Gothic forms, pointed arches,
vaults, &c., but its spirit remains Byzantine, more especially in the
form of the roof-mask, of which, with respect to these three great
families, we have next to determine the typical form.

§ XC. For, observe, the distinctions we have hitherto been stating,
depend on the form of the stones first laid from pier to pier; that is
to say, of the simplest condition of roofs proper. Adding the relations
of the roof-mask to these lines, we shall have the perfect type of form
for each school.

[Illustration: Fig. XII.]

In the Greek, the Western Romanesque, and Western Gothic, the roof-mask
is the gable: in the Eastern Romanesque, and Eastern Gothic, it is the
dome: but I have not studied the roofing of either of these last two
groups, and shall not venture to generalize them in a diagram. But the
three groups, in the hands of the Western builders, may be thus simply
represented: _a_, Fig. XII., Greek;[71] _b_, Western Romanesque; _c_,
Western, or true, Gothic.

Now, observe, first, that the relation of the roof-mask to the roof
proper, in the Greek type, forms that pediment which gives its most
striking character to the temple, and is the principal recipient of its
sculptural decoration. The relation of these lines, therefore, is just
as important in the Greek as in the Gothic schools.

[Illustration: Fig. XIII.]

§ XCI. Secondly, the reader must observe the difference of steepness in
the Romanesque and Gothic gables. This is not an unimportant
distinction, nor an undecided one. The Romanesque gable does not pass
gradually into the more elevated form; there is a great gulf between the
two; the whole effect of all Southern architecture being dependent upon
the use of the flat gable, and of all Northern upon that of the acute. I
need not here dwell upon the difference between the lines of an Italian
village, or the flat tops of most Italian towers, and the peaked gables
and spires of the North, attaining their most fantastic developement, I
believe, in Belgium: but it may be well to state the law of separation,
namely, that a Gothic gable _must_ have all its angles acute, and a
Romanesque one _must_ have the upper one obtuse: or, to give the reader
a simple practical rule, take any gable, _a_ or _b_, Fig. XIII., and
strike a semicircle on its base; if its top rises above the semicircle,
as at _b_, it is a Gothic gable; if it falls beneath it, a Romanesque
one; but the best forms in each group are those which are distinctly
steep, or distinctly low. In the figure _f_ is, perhaps, the average of
Romanesque slope, and _g_ of Gothic.

[Illustration: Fig. XIV.]

§ XCII. But although we do not find a transition from one school into
the other in the slope of the gables, there is often a confusion between
the two schools in the association of the gable with the arch below it.
It has just been stated that the pure Romanesque condition is the round
arch under the low gable, _a_, Fig. XIV., and the pure Gothic condition
is the pointed arch under the high gable, _b_. But in the passage from
one style to the other, we sometimes find the two conditions reversed;
the pointed arch under a low gable, as _d_, or the round arch under a
high gable, as _c_. The form _d_ occurs in the tombs of Verona, and _c_
in the doors of Venice.

§ XCIII. We have thus determined the relation of Gothic to the other
architectures of the world, as far as regards the main lines of its
construction; but there is still one word which needs to be added to our
definition of its form, with respect to a part of its decoration, which
rises out of that construction. We have seen that the first condition of
its form is, that it shall have pointed arches. When Gothic is perfect,
therefore, it will follow that the pointed arches must be built in the
strongest possible manner.

[Illustration: Fig. XV.]

Now, if the reader will look back to Chapter XI. of Vol. I., he will
find the subject of the masonry of the pointed arch discussed at length,
and the conclusion deduced, that of all possible forms of the pointed
arch (a certain weight of material being given), that generically
represented at _e_, Fig. XV., is the strongest. In fact, the reader can
see in a moment that the weakness of the pointed arch is in its flanks,
and that by merely thickening them gradually at this point all chance of
fracture is removed. Or, perhaps, more simply still:--Suppose a gable
built of stone, as at _a_, and pressed upon from without by a weight in
the direction of the arrow, clearly it would be liable to fall in, as at
_b_. To prevent this, we make a pointed arch of it, as at _c_; and now
it cannot fall inwards, but if pressed upon from above may give way
outwards, as at _d_. But at last we build as at _e_, and now it can
neither fall out nor in.

§ XCIV. The forms of arch thus obtained, with a pointed projection
called a cusp on each side, must for ever be delightful to the human
mind, as being expressive of the utmost strength and permanency
obtainable with a given mass of material. But it was not by any such
process of reasoning, nor with any reference to laws of construction,
that the cusp was originally invented. It is merely the special
application to the arch of the great ornamental system of FOLIATION; or
the adaptation of the forms of leafage which has been above insisted
upon as the principal characteristic of Gothic Naturalism. This love of
foliage was exactly proportioned, in its intensity, to the increase of
strength in the Gothic spirit: in the Southern Gothic it is _soft_
leafage that is most loved; in the Northern _thorny_ leafage. And if we
take up any Northern illuminated manuscript of the great Gothic time, we
shall find every one of its leaf ornaments surrounded by a thorny
structure laid round it in gold or in color; sometimes apparently copied
faithfully from the prickly developement of the root of the leaf in the
thistle, running along the stems and branches exactly as the thistle
leaf does along its own stem, and with sharp spines proceeding from the
points, as in Fig. XVI. At other times, and for the most part in work in
the thirteenth century, the golden ground takes the form of pure and
severe cusps, sometimes enclosing the leaves, sometimes filling up the
forks of the branches (as in the example fig. 1, Plate I. Vol. III.),
passing imperceptibly from the distinctly vegetable condition (in which
it is just as certainly representative of the thorn, as other parts of
the design are of the bud, leaf, and fruit) into the crests on the
necks, or the membranous sails of the wings, of serpents, dragons, and
other grotesques, as in Fig. XVII., and into rich and vague fantasies of
curvature; among which, however, the pure cusped system of the pointed
arch is continually discernible, not accidentally, but designedly
indicated, and connecting itself with the literally architectural
portions of the design.

[Illustration: Fig. XVI.]

[Illustration: Fig. XVII.]

§ XCV. The system, then, of what is called Foliation, whether simple, as
in the cusped arch, or complicated, as in tracery, rose out of this love
of leafage; not that the form of the arch is intended to _imitate_ a
leaf, but _to be invested with the same characters of beauty which the
designer had discovered in the leaf_. Observe, there is a wide
difference between these two intentions. The idea that large Gothic
structure, in arches and roofs, was intended to imitate vegetation is,
as above noticed, untenable for an instant in the front of facts. But
the Gothic builder perceived that, in the leaves which he copied for his
minor decorations, there was a peculiar beauty, arising from certain
characters of curvature in outline, and certain methods of subdivision
and of radiation in structure. On a small scale, in his sculptures and
his missal-painting, he copied the leaf or thorn itself; on a large
scale he adopted from it its abstract sources of beauty, and gave the
same kinds of curvatures and the same species of subdivision to the
outline of his arches, so far as was consistent with their strength,
never, in any single instance, suggesting the resemblance to leafage by
_irregularity_ of outline, but keeping the structure perfectly simple,
and, as we have seen, so consistent with the best principles of masonry,
that in the finest Gothic designs of arches, which are always _single_
cusped (the cinquefoiled arch being licentious, though in early work
often very lovely), it is literally impossible, without consulting the
context of the building, to say whether the cusps have been added for
the sake of beauty or of strength; nor, though in mediæval architecture
they were, I believe, assuredly first employed in mere love of their
picturesque form, am I absolutely certain that their earliest invention
was not a structural effort. For the earliest cusps with which I am
acquainted are those used in the vaults of the great galleries of the
Serapeum, discovered in 1850 by M. Maniette at Memphis, and described by
Colonel Hamilton in a paper read in February last before the Royal
Society of Literature.[72] The roofs of its galleries were admirably
shown in Colonel Hamilton's drawings made to scale upon the spot, and
their profile is a cusped round arch, perfectly pure and simple; but
whether thrown into this form for the sake of strength or of grace, I am
unable to say.

§ XCVI. It is evident, however, that the structural advantage of the
cusp is available only in the case of arches on a comparatively small
scale. If the arch becomes very large, the projections under the flanks
must become too ponderous to be secure; the suspended weight of stone
would be liable to break off, and such arches are therefore never
constructed with heavy cusps, but rendered secure by general mass of
masonry; and what additional _appearance_ of support may be thought
necessary (sometimes a considerable degree of _actual_ support) is given
by means of tracery.

[Illustration: Fig. XVIII.]

§ XCVII. Of what I stated in the second chapter of the "Seven Lamps"
respecting the nature of tracery, I need repeat here only this much,
that it began in the use of penetrations through the stone-work of
windows or walls, cut into forms which looked like stars when seen from
within, and like leaves when seen from without: the name foil or feuille
being universally applied to the separate lobes of their extremities,
and the pleasure received from them being the same as that which we feel
in the triple, quadruple, or other radiated leaves of vegetation, joined
with the perception of a severely geometrical order and symmetry. A few
of the most common forms are represented, unconfused by exterior
mouldings, in Fig. XVIII., and the best traceries are nothing more than
close clusters of such forms, with mouldings following their outlines.

§ XCVIII. The term "foliated," therefore, is equally descriptive of the
most perfect conditions both of the simple arch and of the traceries by
which, in later Gothic, it is filled; and this foliation is an essential
character of the style. No Gothic is either good or characteristic which
is not foliated either in its arches or apertures. Sometimes the bearing
arches are foliated, and the ornamentation above composed of figure
sculpture; sometimes the bearing arches are plain, and the ornamentation
above them is composed of foliated apertures. But the element of
foliation _must_ enter somewhere, or the style is imperfect. And our
final definition of Gothic will, therefore, stand thus:--

"_Foliated_ Architecture, which uses the pointed arch for the roof
proper, and the gable for the roof-mask."

§ XCIX. And now there is but one point more to be examined, and we have

[Illustration: Fig. XIX.]

Foliation, while it is the most distinctive and peculiar, is also the
easiest method of decoration which Gothic architecture possesses; and,
although in the disposition of the proportions and forms of foils, the
most noble imagination may be shown, yet a builder without imagination
at all, or any other faculty of design, can produce some effect upon the
mass of his work by merely covering it with foolish foliation. Throw any
number of crossing lines together at random, as in Fig. XIX., and fill
their squares and oblong openings with quatrefoils and cinquefoils, and
you will immediately have what will stand, with most people, for very
satisfactory Gothic. The slightest possible acquaintance with existing
forms will enable any architect to vary his patterns of foliation with
as much ease as he would those of a kaleidoscope, and to produce a
building which the present European public will think magnificent,
though there may not be, from foundation to coping, one ray of
invention, or any other intellectual merit, in the whole mass of it. But
floral decoration, and the disposition of mouldings, require some skill
and thought; and, if they are to be agreeable at all, must be verily
invented, or accurately copied. They cannot be drawn altogether at
random, without becoming so commonplace as to involve detection: and
although, as I have just said, the noblest imagination may be shown in
the dispositions of traceries, there is far more room for its play and
power when those traceries are associated with floral or animal
ornament; and it is probable, _à priori_, that, wherever true invention
exists, such ornament will be employed in profusion.

§ C. Now, all Gothic may be divided into two vast schools, one early,
the other late;[73] of which the former, noble, inventive, and
progressive, uses the element of foliation moderately, that of floral
and figure sculpture decoration profusely; the latter, ignoble,
uninventive, and declining, uses foliation immoderately, floral and
figure sculpture subordinately. The two schools touch each other at that
instant of momentous change, dwelt upon in the "Seven Lamps," chap, ii.,
a period later or earlier in different districts, but which may be
broadly stated as the middle of the fourteenth century; both styles
being, of course, in their highest excellence at the moment when they
meet, the one ascending to the point of junction, the one declining from
it, but, at first, not in any marked degree, and only showing the
characters which justify its being above called, generically, ignoble,
as its declension reaches steeper slope.

§ CI. Of these two great schools, the first uses foliation only in large
and simple masses, and covers the minor members, cusps, &c., of that
foliation, with various sculpture. The latter decorates foliation itself
with minor foliation, and breaks its traceries into endless and
lace-like subdivision of tracery.

A few instances will explain the difference clearly. Fig. 2, Plate XII.,
represents half of an eight-foiled aperture from Salisbury; where the
element of foliation is employed in the larger disposition of the starry
form; but in the decoration of the cusp it has entirely disappeared, and
the ornament is floral.

[Illustration: Plate XII.

But in fig. 1, which is part of a fringe round one of the later windows
in Rouen Cathedral, the foliation is first carried boldly round the
arch, and then each cusp of it divided into other forms of foliation.
The two larger canopies of niches below, figs. 5 and 6, are respectively
those seen at the flanks of the two uppermost examples of gabled Gothic
in Fig. X., p. 213. Those examples were there chosen in order also to
illustrate the distinction in the character of ornamentation which we
are at present examining; and if the reader will look back to them, and
compare their methods of treatment, he will at once be enabled to fix
that distinction clearly in his mind. He will observe that in the
uppermost the element of foliation is scrupulously confined to the
bearing arches of the gable, and of the lateral niches, so that, on any
given side of the monument, only three foliated arches are discernible.
All the rest of the ornamentation is "bossy sculpture," set on the broad
marble surface. On the point of the gable are set the shield and
dog-crest of the Scalas, with its bronze wings, as of a dragon, thrown
out from it on either side; below, an admirably sculptured oak-tree
fills the centre of the field; beneath it is the death of Abel, Abel
lying dead upon his face on one side, Cain opposite, looking up to
heaven in terror: the border of the arch is formed of various leafage,
alternating with the scala shield; and the cusps are each filled by one
flower, and two broad flowing leaves. The whole is exquisitely relieved
by color; the ground being of pale red Verona marble, and the statues
and foliage of white Carrara marble, inlaid.

§ CII. The figure below it, _b_, represents the southern lateral door
of the principal church in Abbeville: the smallness of the scale
compelled me to make it somewhat heavier in the lines of its traceries
than it is in reality, but the door itself is one of the most exquisite
pieces of flamboyant Gothic in the world; and it is interesting to see
the shield introduced here, at the point of the gable, in exactly the
same manner as in the upper example, and with precisely the same
purpose,--to stay the eye in its ascent, and to keep it from being
offended by the sharp point of the gable, the reversed angle of the
shield being so energetic as completely to balance the upward tendency
of the great convergent lines. It will be seen, however, as this example
is studied, that its other decorations are altogether different from
those of the Veronese tomb; that, here, the whole effect is dependent on
mere multiplications of similar lines of tracery, sculpture being hardly
introduced except in the seated statue under the central niche, and,
formerly, in groups filling the shadowy hollows under the small niches
in the archivolt, but broken away in the Revolution. And if now we turn
to Plate XII., just passed, and examine the heads of the two lateral
niches there given from each of these monuments on a larger scale, the
contrast will be yet more apparent. The one from Abbeville (fig. 5),
though it contains much floral work of the crisp Northern kind in its
finial and crockets, yet depends for all its effect on the various
patterns of foliation with which its spaces are filled; and it is so cut
through and through that it is hardly stronger than a piece of lace:
whereas the pinnacle from Verona depends for its effect on one broad
mass of shadow, boldly shaped into the trefoil in its bearing arch; and
there is no other trefoil on that side of the niche. All the rest of its
decoration is floral, or by almonds and bosses; and its surface of stone
is unpierced, and kept in broad light, and the mass of it thick and
strong enough to stand for as many more centuries as it has already
stood, scatheless, in the open street of Verona. The figures 3 and 4,
above each niche, show how the same principles are carried out into the
smallest details of the two edifices, 3 being the moulding which
borders the gable at Abbeville, and 4, that in the same position at
Verona; and as thus in all cases the distinction in their treatment
remains the same, the one attracting the eye to broad sculptured
_surfaces_, the other to involutions of intricate _lines_, I shall
hereafter characterize the two schools, whenever I have occasion to
refer to them, the one as Surface-Gothic, the other as Linear-Gothic.

§ CIII. Now observe: it is not, at present, the question, whether the
form of the Veronese niche, and the design of its flower-work, be as
good as they might have been; but simply, which of the two architectural
principles is the greater and better. And this we cannot hesitate for an
instant in deciding. The Veronese Gothic is strong in its masonry,
simple in its masses, but perpetual in its variety. The late French
Gothic is weak in masonry, broken in mass, and repeats the same idea
continually. It is very beautiful, but the Italian Gothic is the nobler

§ CIV. Yet, in saying that the French Gothic repeats one idea, I mean
merely that it depends too much upon the foliation of its traceries. The
disposition of the traceries themselves is endlessly varied and
inventive; and indeed, the mind of the French workman was, perhaps, even
richer in fancy than that of the Italian, only he had been taught a less
noble style. This is especially to be remembered with respect to the
subordination of figure sculpture above noticed as characteristic of the
later Gothic.

It is not that such sculpture is wanting; on the contrary, it is often
worked into richer groups, and carried out with a perfection of
execution, far greater than those which adorn the earlier buildings:
but, in the early work, it is vigorous, prominent, and essential to the
beauty of the whole; in the late work it is enfeebled, and shrouded in
the veil of tracery, from which it may often be removed with little harm
to the general effect.[74]

[Illustration: Fig. XX.]

§ CV. Now the reader may rest assured that no principle of art is more
absolute than this,--that a composition from which anything can be
removed without doing mischief is always so far forth inferior. On this
ground, therefore, if on no other, there can be no question, for a
moment, which of the two schools is the greater; although there are many
most noble works in the French traceried Gothic, having a sublimity of
their own dependent on their extreme richness and grace of line, and for
which we may be most grateful to their builders. And, indeed, the
superiority of the Surface-Gothic cannot be completely felt, until we
compare it with the more degraded Linear schools, as, for instance, with
our own English Perpendicular. The ornaments of the Veronese niche,
which we have used for our example, are by no means among the best of
their school, yet they will serve our purpose for such a comparison.
That of its pinnacle is composed of a single upright flowering plant, of
which the stem shoots up through the centres of the leaves, and bears a
pendent blossom, somewhat like that of the imperial lily. The leaves are
thrown back from the stem with singular grace and freedom, and
foreshortened, as if by a skilful painter, in the shallow marble relief.
Their arrangement is roughly shown in the little woodcut at the side
(Fig. XX.); and if the reader will simply try the experiment for
himself,--first, of covering a piece of paper with crossed lines, as if
for accounts, and filling all the interstices with any foliation that
comes into his head, as in Figure XIX. above; and then, of trying to
fill the point of a gable with a piece of leafage like that in Figure
XX. above, putting the figure itself aside,--he will presently find that
more thought and invention are required to design this single minute
pinnacle, than to cover acres of ground with English perpendicular.

§ CVI. We have now, I believe, obtained a sufficiently accurate
knowledge both of the spirit and form of Gothic architecture; but it
may, perhaps, be useful to the general reader, if, in conclusion, I set
down a few plain and practical rules for determining, in every instance,
whether a given building be good Gothic or not, and, if not Gothic,
whether its architecture is of a kind which will probably reward the
pains of careful examination.

§ CVII. First. Look if the roof rises in a steep gable, high above the
walls. If it does not do this, there is something wrong; the building is
not quite pure Gothic, or has been altered.

§ CVIII. Secondly. Look if the principal windows and doors have pointed
arches with gables over them. If not pointed arches, the building is not
Gothic; if they have not any gables over them, it is either not pure, or
not first-rate.

If, however, it has the steep roof, the pointed arch, and gable all
united, it is nearly certain to be a Gothic building of a very fine

§ CIX. Thirdly. Look if the arches are cusped, or apertures foliated. If
the building has met the first two conditions, it is sure to be foliated
somewhere; but, if not everywhere, the parts which are unfoliated are
imperfect, unless they are large bearing arches, or small and sharp
arches in groups, forming a kind of foliation by their own multiplicity,
and relieved by sculpture and rich mouldings. The upper windows, for
instance, in the east end of Westminster Abbey are imperfect for want of
foliation. If there be no foliation anywhere, the building is assuredly
imperfect Gothic.

§ CX. Fourthly. If the building meets all the first three conditions,
look if its arches in general, whether of windows and doors, or of minor
ornamentation, are carried on _true shafts with bases and capitals_. If
they are, then the building is assuredly of the finest Gothic style. It
may still, perhaps, be an imitation, a feeble copy, or a bad example of
a noble style; but the manner of it, having met all these four
conditions, is assuredly first-rate.

If its apertures have not shafts and capitals, look if they are plain
openings in the walls, studiously simple, and unmoulded at the sides;
as, for instance, the arch in Plate XIX. Vol. I. If so, the building may
still be of the finest Gothic, adapted to some domestic or military
service. But if the sides of the window be moulded, and yet there are no
capitals at the spring of the arch, it is assuredly of an inferior

This is all that is necessary to determine whether the building be of a
fine Gothic style. The next tests to be applied are in order to discover
whether it be good architecture or not: for it may be very impure
Gothic, and yet very noble architecture; or it may be very pure Gothic,
and yet, if a copy, or originally raised by an ungifted builder, very
bad architecture.

If it belong to any of the great schools of color, its criticism becomes
as complicated, and needs as much care, as that of a piece of music, and
no general rules for it can be given; but if not--

§ CXI. First. See if it looks as if it had been built by strong men; if
it has the sort of roughness, and largeness, and nonchalance, mixed in
places with the exquisite tenderness which seems always to be the
sign-manual of the broad vision, and massy power of men who can see
_past_ the work they are doing, and betray here and there something like
disdain for it. If the building has this character, it is much already
in its favor; it will go hard but it proves a noble one. If it has not
this, but is altogether accurate, minute, and scrupulous in its
workmanship, it must belong to either the very best or the very worst of
schools: the very best, in which exquisite design is wrought out with
untiring and conscientious care, as in the Giottesque Gothic; or the
very worst, in which mechanism has taken the place of design. It is more
likely, in general, that it should belong to the worst than the best: so
that, on the whole, very accurate workmanship is to be esteemed a bad
sign; and if there is nothing remarkable about the building but its
precision, it may be passed at once with contempt.

§ CXII. Secondly. Observe if it be irregular, its different parts
fitting themselves to different purposes, no one caring what becomes of
them, so that they do their work. If one part always answers accurately
to another part, it is sure to be a bad building; and the greater and
more conspicuous the irregularities, the greater the chances are that it
is a good one. For instance, in the Ducal Palace, of which a rough
woodcut is given in Chap. VIII., the general idea is sternly
symmetrical; but two windows are lower than the rest of the six; and if
the reader will count the arches of the small arcade as far as to the
great balcony, he will find it is not in the centre, but set to the
right-hand side by the whole width of one of those arches. We may be
pretty sure that the building is a good one; none but a master of his
craft would have ventured to do this.

§ CXIII. Thirdly. Observe if all the traceries, capitals, and other
ornaments are of perpetually varied design. If not, the work is
assuredly bad.

§ CXIV. Lastly. _Read_ the sculpture. Preparatory to reading it, you
will have to discover whether it is legible (and, if legible, it is
nearly certain to be worth reading). On a good building, the sculpture
is _always_ so set, and on such a scale, that at the ordinary distance
from which the edifice is seen, the sculpture shall be thoroughly
intelligible and interesting. In order to accomplish this, the uppermost
statues will be ten or twelve feet high, and the upper ornamentation
will be colossal, increasing in fineness as it descends, till on the
foundation it will often be wrought as if for a precious cabinet in a
king's chamber; but the spectator will not notice that the upper
sculptures are colossal. He will merely feel that he can see them
plainly, and make them all out at his ease.

And, having ascertained this, let him set himself to read them.
Thenceforward the criticism of the building is to be conducted precisely
on the same principles as that of a book; and it must depend on the
knowledge, feeling, and not a little on the industry and perseverance of
the reader, whether, even in the case of the best works, he either
perceive them to be great, or feel them to be entertaining.


  [56] The third kind of ornament, the Renaissance, is that in which
    the inferior detail becomes principal, the executor of every minor
    portion being required to exhibit skill and possess knowledge as
    great as that which is possessed by the master of the design; and in
    the endeavor to endow him with this skill and knowledge, his own
    original power is overwhelmed, and the whole building becomes a
    wearisome exhibition of well-educated imbecility. We must fully
    inquire into the nature of this form of error, when we arrive at the
    examination of the Renaissance schools.

  [57] Vide Preface to "Fair Maid of Perth."

  [58] The Elgin marbles are supposed by many persons to be "perfect."
    In the most important portions they indeed approach perfection, but
    only there. The draperies are unfinished, the hair and wool of the
    animals are unfinished, and the entire bas-reliefs of the frieze are
    roughly cut.

  [59] In the eighth chapter we shall see a remarkable instance of
    this sacrifice of symmetry to convenience in the arrangement of the
    windows of the Ducal Palace.

  [60] I am always afraid to use this word "Composition;" it is so
    utterly misused in the general parlance respecting art. Nothing is
    more common than to hear divisions of art into "form, composition,
    and color," or "light and shade and composition," or "sentiment and
    composition," or it matters not what else and composition; the
    speakers in each case attaching a perfectly different meaning to the
    word, generally an indistinct one, and always a wrong one.
    Composition is, in plain English, "putting together," and it means
    the putting together of lines, of forms, of colors, of shades, or of
    ideas. Painters compose in color, compose in thought, compose in
    form, and compose in effect: the word being of use merely in order
    to express a scientific, disciplined, and inventive arrangement of
    any of these, instead of a merely natural or accidental one.

  [61] Design is used in this place as expressive of the power to
    arrange lines and colors nobly. By facts, I mean facts perceived by
    the eye and mind, not facts accumulated by knowledge. See the
    chapter on Roman Renaissance (Vol. III. Chap. II.) for this

  [62] "Earlier," that is to say, pre-Raphaelite ages. Men of this
    stamp will praise Claude, and such other comparatively debased
    artists; but they cannot taste the work of the thirteenth century.

  [63] Not selfish fear, caused by want of trust in God, or of
    resolution in the soul.

  [64] I reserve for another place the full discussion of this
    interesting subject, which here would have led me too far; but it
    must be noted, in passing, that this vulgar Purism, which rejects
    truth, not because it is vicious, but because it is humble, and
    consists not in choosing what is good, but in disguising what is
    rough, extends itself into every species of art. The most definite
    instance of it is the dressing of characters of peasantry in an
    opera or ballet scene; and the walls of our exhibitions are full of
    works of art which "exalt nature" in the same way, not by revealing
    what is great in the heart, but by smoothing what is coarse in the
    complexion. There is nothing, I believe, so vulgar, so hopeless, so
    indicative of an irretrievably base mind, as this species of Purism.
    Of healthy Purism carried to the utmost endurable length in this
    direction, exalting the heart first, and the features with it,
    perhaps the most characteristic instance I can give is Stothard's
    vignette to "Jorasse," in Rogers's Italy; at least it would be so if
    it could be seen beside a real group of Swiss girls. The poems of
    Rogers, compared with those of Crabbe, are admirable instances of
    the healthiest Purism and healthiest Naturalism in poetry. The first
    great Naturalists of Christian art were Orcagna and Giotto.

  [65] The reader will understand this in a moment by glancing at Plate
    XX., the last in this volume, where the series 1 to 12 represents
    the change in one kind of leaf, from the Byzantine to the perfect

  [66] The best art either represents the facts of its own day, or, if
    facts of the past, expresses them with accessories of the time in
    which the work was done. All good art, representing past events, is
    therefore full of the most frank anachronism, and always _ought_ to
    be. No painter has any business to be an antiquarian. We do not want
    his impressions or suppositions respecting things that are past. We
    want his clear assertions respecting things present.

  [67] See the account of the meeting at Talla Linns, in 1682, given
    in the fourth chapter of the "Heart of Midlothian." At length they
    arrived at the conclusion that "they who owned (or allowed) such
    names as Monday, Tuesday, January, February, and so forth, served
    themselves heirs to the same if not greater punishment than had been
    denounced against the idolaters of old."

  [68] See the beautiful description of Florence in Elizabeth Browning's
    "Casa Guidi Windows," which is not only a noble poem, but the only
    book I have seen which, favoring the Liberal cause in Italy, gives a
    just account of the incapacities of the modern Italian.

  [69] Salisbury spire is only a tower with a polygonal gabled roof of
    stone, and so also the celebrated spires of Caen and Coutances.

  [70] Or by the shaded portions of Fig. XXIX. Vol. I.

  [71] The reader is not to suppose that Greek architecture had always,
    or often, flat ceilings, because I call its lintel the roof proper.
    He must remember I always use these terms of the first simple
    arrangements of materials that bridge a space; bringing in the real
    roof afterwards, if I can. In the case of Greek temples it would be
    vain to refer their structure to the real roof, for many were
    hypæthral, and without a roof at all. I am unfortunately more
    ignorant of Egyptian roofing than even of Arabian, so that I cannot
    bring this school into the diagram; but the gable appears to have
    been magnificently used for a bearing roof. Vide Mr. Fergusson's
    section of the Pyramid of Geezeh, "Principles of Beauty in Art,"
    Plate I., and his expressions of admiration of Egyptian roof
    masonry, page 201.

  [72] See 'Athenæum,' March 5th, 1853.

  [73] Late, and chiefly confined to Northern countries, so that the
    two schools may be opposed either as Early and Late Gothic, or (in
    the fourteenth century) as Southern and Northern Gothic.

  [74] In many of the best French Gothic churches, the groups of figures
    have been all broken away at the Revolution, without much harm to
    the picturesqueness, though with grievous loss to the historical
    value of the architecture: whereas, if from the niche at Verona we
    were to remove its floral ornaments, and the statue beneath it,
    nothing would remain but a rude square trefoiled shell, utterly
    valueless, or even ugly.



§ I. The buildings out of the remnants of which we have endeavored to
recover some conception of the appearance of Venice during the Byzantine
period, contribute hardly anything at this day to the effect of the
streets of the city. They are too few and too much defaced to attract
the eye or influence the feelings. The charm which Venice still
possesses, and which for the last fifty years has rendered it the
favorite haunt of all the painters of picturesque subject, is owing to
the effect of the palaces belonging to the period we have now to
examine, mingled with those of the Renaissance.

This effect is produced in two different ways. The Renaissance palaces
are not more picturesque in themselves than the club-houses of Pall
Mall; but they become delightful by the contrast of their severity and
refinement with the rich and rude confusion of the sea life beneath
them, and of their white and solid masonry with the green waves. Remove
from beneath them the orange sails of the fishing boats, the black
gliding of the gondolas, the cumbered decks and rough crews of the
barges of traffic, and the fretfulness of the green water along their
foundations, and the Renaissance palaces possess no more interest than
those of London or Paris. But the Gothic palaces are picturesque in
themselves, and wield over us an independent power. Sea and sky, and
every other accessory might be taken away from them, and still they
would be beautiful and strange. They are not less striking in the
loneliest streets of Padua and Vicenza (where many were built during the
period of the Venetian authority in those cities) than in the most
crowded thoroughfares of Venice itself; and if they could be
transported into the midst of London, they would still not altogether
lose their power over the feelings.

§ II. The best proof of this is in the perpetual attractiveness of all
pictures, however poor in skill, which have taken for their subject the
principal of these Gothic buildings, the Ducal Palace. In spite of all
architectural theories and teachings, the paintings of this building are
always felt to be delightful; we cannot be wearied by them, though often
sorely tried; but we are not put to the same trial in the case of the
palaces of the Renaissance. They are never drawn singly, or as the
principal subject, nor can they be. The building which faces the Ducal
Palace on the opposite side of the Piazzetta is celebrated among
architects, but it is not familiar to our eyes; it is painted only
incidentally, for the completion, not the subject, of a Venetian scene;
and even the Renaissance arcades of St. Mark's Place, though frequently
painted, are always treated as a mere avenue to its Byzantine church and
colossal tower. And the Ducal Palace itself owes the peculiar charm
which we have hitherto felt, not so much to its greater size as compared
with other Gothic buildings, or nobler design (for it never yet has been
rightly drawn), as to its comparative isolation. The other Gothic
structures are as much injured by the continual juxtaposition of the
Renaissance palaces, as the latter are aided by it; they exhaust their
own life by breathing it into the Renaissance coldness: but the Ducal
Palace stands comparatively alone, and fully expresses the Gothic power.

[Illustration: Fig. XXI.]

§ III. And it is just that it should be so seen, for it is the original
of nearly all the rest. It is not the elaborate and more studied
developement of a national style, but the great and sudden invention of
one man, instantly forming a national style, and becoming the model for
the imitation of every architect in Venice for upwards of a century. It
was the determination of this one fact which occupied me the greater
part of the time I spent in Venice. It had always appeared to me most
strange that there should be in no part of the city any incipient or
imperfect types of the form of the Ducal Palace; it was difficult to
believe that so mighty a building had been the conception of one man,
not only in disposition and detail, but in style; and yet impossible,
had it been otherwise, but that some early examples of approximate
Gothic form must exist. There is not one. The palaces built between the
final cessation of the Byzantine style, about 1300, and the date of the
Ducal Palace (1320-1350), are all completely distinct in character, so
distinct that I at first intended the account of them to form a separate
section of this volume; and there is literally _no_ transitional form
between them and the perfection of the Ducal Palace. Every Gothic
building in Venice which resembles the latter is a copy of it. I do not
mean that there was no Gothic in Venice before the Ducal Palace, but
that the mode of its application to domestic architecture had not been
determined. The real root of the Ducal Palace is the apse of the church
of the Frari. The traceries of that apse, though earlier and ruder in
workmanship, are nearly the same in mouldings, and precisely the same in
treatment (especially in the placing of the lions' heads), as those of
the great Ducal Arcade; and the originality of thought in the architect
of the Ducal Palace consists in his having adapted those traceries, in a
more highly developed and finished form, to civil uses. In the apse of
the church they form narrow and tall window lights, somewhat more
massive than those of Northern Gothic, but similar in application: the
thing to be done was to adapt these traceries to the forms of domestic
building necessitated by national usage. The early palaces consisted, as
we have seen, of arcades sustaining walls faced with marble, rather
broad and long than elevated. This form was kept for the Ducal Palace;
but instead of round arches from shaft to shaft, the Frari traceries
were substituted, with two essential modifications. Besides being
enormously increased in scale and thickness, that they might better bear
the superincumbent weight, the quatrefoil, which in the Frari windows is
above the arch, as at _a_, Fig. XXI., on previous page, was, in the
Ducal Palace, put between the arches, as at _b_; the main reason for
this alteration being that the bearing power of the arches, which was
now to be trusted with the weight of a wall forty feet high,[75] was
thus thrown _between_ the quatrefoils, instead of under them, and
thereby applied at far better advantage. And, in the second place, the
joints of the masonry were changed. In the Frari (as often also in St.
John and St. Paul's) the tracery is formed of two simple cross bars or
slabs of stone, pierced into the requisite forms, and separated by a
horizontal joint, just on a level with the lowest cusp of the
quatrefoils, as seen in Fig. XXI., _a_. But at the Ducal Palace the
horizontal joint is in the centre of the quatrefoils, and two others are
introduced beneath it at right angles to the run of the mouldings, as
seen in Fig. XXI., _b_.[76] The Ducal Palace builder was sternly
resolute in carrying out this rule of masonry. In the traceries of the
large upper windows, where the cusps are cut through as in the
quatrefoil Fig. XXII., the lower cusp is left partly solid, as at _a_,
merely that the joint _a b_ may have its right place and direction.

[Illustration: Fig. XXII.]

§ IV. The ascertaining the formation of the Ducal Palace traceries from
those of the Frari, and its priority to all other buildings which
resemble it in Venice, rewarded me for a great deal of uninteresting
labor in the examination of mouldings and other minor features of the
Gothic palaces, in which alone the internal evidence of their date was
to be discovered, there being no historical records whatever respecting
them. But the accumulation of details on which the complete proof of the
fact depends, could not either be brought within the compass of this
volume, or be made in anywise interesting to the general reader. I shall
therefore, without involving myself in any discussion, give a brief
account of the developement of Gothic design in Venice, as I believe it
to have taken place. I shall possibly be able at some future period so
to compress the evidence on which my conviction rests, as to render it
intelligible to the public, while, in the meantime, some of the more
essential points of it are thrown together in the Appendix, and in the
history of the Ducal Palace given in the next chapter.

§ V. According, then, to the statement just made, the Gothic
architecture of Venice is divided into two great periods: one, in which,
while various irregular Gothic tendencies are exhibited, no consistent
type of domestic building was developed; the other, in which a formed
and consistent school of domestic architecture resulted from the direct
imitation of the great design of the Ducal Palace. We must deal with
these two periods separately; the first of them being that which has
been often above alluded to, under the name of the transitional period.

We shall consider in succession the general form, the windows, doors,
balconies, and parapets, of the Gothic palaces belonging to each of
these periods.

§ VI. First. General Form.

We have seen that the wrecks of the Byzantine palaces consisted merely
of upper and lower arcades surrounding cortiles; the disposition of the
interiors being now entirely changed, and their original condition
untraceable. The entrances to these early buildings are, for the most
part, merely large circular arches, the central features of their
continuous arcades: they do not present us with definitely separated
windows and doors.

But a great change takes place in the Gothic period. These long arcades
break, as it were, into pieces, and coagulate into central and lateral
windows, and small arched doors, pierced in great surfaces of brick
wall. The sea story of a Byzantine palace consists of seven, nine, or
more arches in a continuous line; but the sea story of a Gothic palace
consists of a door and one or two windows on each side, as in a modern
house. The first story of a Byzantine palace consists of, perhaps,
eighteen or twenty arches, reaching from one side of the house to the
other; the first story of a Gothic palace consists of a window of four
or five lights in the centre, and one or two single windows on each
side. The germ, however, of the Gothic arrangement is already found in
the Byzantine, where, as we have seen, the arcades, though continuous,
are always composed of a central mass and two wings of smaller arches.
The central group becomes the door or the middle light of the Gothic
palace, and the wings break into its lateral windows.

§ VII. But the most essential difference in the entire arrangement, is
the loss of the unity of conception which, regulated Byzantine
composition. How subtle the sense of gradation which disposed the
magnitudes of the early palaces we have seen already, but I have not
hitherto noticed that the Byzantine work was centralized in its
ornamentation as much as in its proportions. Not only were the lateral
capitals and archivolts kept comparatively plain, while the central ones
were sculptured, but the midmost piece of sculpture, whatever it might
be,--capital, inlaid circle, or architrave,--was always made superior to
the rest. In the Fondaco de' Turchi, for instance, the midmost capital
of the upper arcade is the key to the whole group, larger and more
studied than all the rest; and the lateral ones are so disposed as to
answer each other on the opposite sides, thus, A being put for the
central one,

  F E B C +A+ C B E F,

a sudden break of the system being admitted in one unique capital at the
extremity of the series.

§ VIII. Now, long after the Byzantine arcades had been contracted into
windows, this system of centralization was more or less maintained; and
in all the early groups of windows of five lights the midmost capital is
different from the two on each side of it, which always correspond. So
strictly is this the case, that whenever the capitals of any group of
windows are not centralized in this manner, but are either entirely like
each other, or all different, so as to show no correspondence, it is a
certain proof, even if no other should exist, of the comparative
lateness of the building.

In every group of windows in Venice which I was able to examine, and
which were centralized in this manner, I found evidence in their
mouldings of their being _anterior_ to the Ducal Palace. That palace did
away with the subtle proportion and centralization of the Byzantine. Its
arches are of equal width, and its capitals are all different and
ungrouped; some, indeed, are larger than the rest, but this is not for
the sake of proportion, only for particular service when more weight is
to be borne. But, among other evidences of the early date of the sea
façade of that building, is one subtle and delicate concession to the
system of centralization which is finally closed. The capitals of the
upper arcade are, as I said, all different, and show no arranged
correspondence with each other; but _the central one is of pure Parian
marble_, while all the others are of Istrian stone.

The bold decoration of the central window and balcony above, in the
Ducal Palace, is only a peculiar expression of the principality of the
central window, which was characteristic of the Gothic period not less
than of the Byzantine. In the private palaces the central windows become
of importance by their number of lights; in the Ducal Palace such an
arrangement was, for various reasons, inconvenient, and the central
window, which, so far from being more important than the others, is
every way inferior in design to the two at the eastern extremity of the
façade, was nevertheless made the leading feature by its noble canopy
and balcony.

§ IX. Such being the principal differences in the general conception of
the Byzantine and Gothic palaces, the particulars in the treatment of
the latter are easily stated. The marble facings are gradually removed
from the walls; and the bare brick either stands forth confessed boldly,
contrasted with the marble shafts and archivolts of the windows, or it
is covered with stucco painted in fresco, of which more hereafter. The
Ducal Palace, as in all other respects, is an exact expression of the
middle point in the change. It still retains marble facing; but instead
of being disposed in slabs as in the Byzantine times, it is applied in
solid bricks or blocks of marble, 11½ inches long, by 6 inches high.

The stories of the Gothic palaces are divided by string courses,
considerably bolder in projection than those of the Byzantines, and more
highly decorated; and while the angles of the Byzantine palaces are
quite sharp and pure, those of the Gothic palaces are wrought into a
chamfer, filled by small twisted shafts which have capitals under the
cornice of each story.

§ X. These capitals are little observed in the general effect, but the
shafts are of essential importance in giving an aspect of firmness to
the angle; a point of peculiar necessity in Venice, where, owning to the
various convolutions of the canals, the angles of the palaces are not
only frequent, but often necessarily _acute_, every inch of ground being
valuable. In other cities, the appearance as well as the assurance of
stability can always be secured by the use of massy stones, as in the
fortress palaces of Florence; but it must have been always desirable at
Venice to build as lightly as possible, in consequence of the
comparative insecurity of the foundations. The early palaces were, as we
have seen, perfect models of grace and lightness, and the Gothic, which
followed, though much more massive in the style of its details, never
admitted more weight into its structure than was absolutely necessary
for its strength, Hence, every Gothic palace has the appearance of
enclosing as many rooms, and attaining as much strength, as is possible,
with a minimum quantity of brick and stone. The traceries of the
windows, which in Northern Gothic only support the _glass_, at Venice
support the _building_; and thus the greater ponderousness of the
_traceries_ is only an indication of the greater lightness of the
_structure_. Hence, when the Renaissance architects give their opinions
as to the stability of the Ducal Palace when injured by fire, one of
them, Christofore Sorte, says, that he thinks it by no means laudable
that the "Serenissimo Dominio" of the Venetian senate "should live in a
palace built in the air."[77] And again, Andrea della Valle says,
that[78] "the wall of the saloon is thicker by fifteen inches than the
shafts below it, projecting nine inches within, and six without,
_standing as if in the air_, above the piazza;"[79] and yet this wall is
so nobly and strongly knit together, that Rusconi, though himself
altogether devoted to the Renaissance school, declares that the fire
which had destroyed the whole interior of the palace had done this wall
no more harm than the bite of a fly to an elephant. "Troveremo che el
danno che ha patito queste muraglie sarà conforme alla beccatura d' una
mosca fatta ad un elefante."[80]

§ XI. And so in all the other palaces built at the time, consummate
strength was joined with a lightness of form and sparingness of material
which rendered it eminently desirable that the eye should be convinced,
by every possible expedient, of the stability of the building; and these
twisted pillars at the angles are not among the least important means
adopted for this purpose, for they seem to bind the walls together as a
cable binds a chest. In the Ducal Palace, where they are carried up the
angle of an unbroken wall forty feet high, they are divided into
portions, gradually diminishing in length towards the top, by circular
bands or rings, set with the nail-head or dog-tooth ornament, vigorously
projecting, and giving the column nearly the aspect of the stalk of a
reed; its diminishing proportions being exactly arranged as they are by
Nature in all jointed plants. At the top of the palace, like the
wheat-stalk branching into the ear of corn, it expands into a small
niche with a pointed canopy, which joins with the fantastic parapet in
at once relieving, and yet making more notable by its contrast, the
weight of massy wall below. The arrangement is seen in the woodcut,
Chap. VIII.; the angle shafts being slightly exaggerated in thickness,
together with their joints, as otherwise they would hardly have been
intelligible on so small a scale.

The Ducal Palace is peculiar in these niches at the angles, which
throughout the rest of the city appear on churches only; but some may
perhaps have been removed by restorations, together with the parapets
with which they were associated.

[Illustration: Fig. XXIII.]

§ XII. Of these roof parapets of Venice, it has been already noticed
that the examples which remain differ from those of all other cities of
Italy in their purely ornamental character. (Chap. I. § XII.) They are
not battlements, properly so-called; still less machicolated cornices,
such as crown the fortress palaces of the great mainland nobles; but
merely adaptations of the light and crown-like ornaments which crest the
walls of the Arabian mosque. Nor are even these generally used on the
main walls of the palaces themselves. They occur on the Ducal Palace,
on the Casa d' Oro, and, some years back, were still standing on the
Fondaco de' Turchi; but the majority of the Gothic Palaces have the
plain dog-tooth cornice under the tiled projecting roof (Vol. I. Chap.
XIV. § IV.); and the highly decorated parapet is employed only on the
tops of walls which surround courts or gardens, and which, without such
decoration, would have been utterly devoid of interest. Fig. XXIII.
represents, at _b_, part of a parapet of this kind which surrounds the
courtyard of a palace in the Calle del Bagatin, between San G.
Grisostomo, and San Canzian: the whole is of brick, and the mouldings
peculiarly sharp and varied; the height of each separate pinnacle being
about four feet, crowning a wall twelve or fifteen feet high: a piece of
the moulding which surrounds the quatrefoil is given larger in the
figure at _a_, together with the top of the small arch below, having the
common Venetian dentil round it, and a delicate little moulding with
dog-tooth ornament to carry the flanks of the arch. The moulding of the
brick is throughout sharp and beautiful in the highest degree. One of
the most curious points about it is the careless way in which the curved
outlines of the pinnacles are cut into the plain brickwork, with no
regard whatever to the places of its joints. The weather of course wears
the bricks at the exposed joints, and jags the outline a little; but the
work has stood, evidently from the fourteenth century, without
sustaining much harm.

§ XIII. This parapet may be taken as a general type of the
_wall_-parapet of Venice in the Gothic period; some being much less
decorated, and others much more richly: the most beautiful in Venice is
in the little Calle, opening on the Campo and Traghetto San Samuele; it
has delicately carved devices in stone let into each pinnacle.

The parapets of the palaces themselves were lighter and more fantastic,
consisting of narrow lance-like spires of marble, set between the
broader pinnacles, which were in such cases generally carved into the
form of a fleur-de-lis: the French word gives the reader the best idea
of the form, though he must remember that this use of the lily for the
parapets has nothing to do with France, but is the carrying out of the
Byzantine system of floral ornamentation, which introduced the outline
of the lily everywhere; so that I have found it convenient to call its
most beautiful capitals, the _lily_ capitals of St. Mark's. But the
occurrence of this flower, more distinctly than usual, on the
battlements of the Ducal Palace, was the cause of some curious political
speculation in the year 1511, when a piece of one of these battlements
was shaken down by the great earthquake of that year. Sanuto notes in
his diary that "the piece that fell was just that which bore the lily,"
and records sundry sinister anticipations, founded on this important
omen, of impending danger to the adverse French power. As there happens,
in the Ducal Palace, to be a joint in the pinnacles which exactly
separates the "part which bears the lily" from that which is fastened to
the cornice, it is no wonder that the omen proved fallacious.

§ XIV. The decorations of the parapet were completed by attaching gilded
balls of metal to the extremities of the leaves of the lilies, and of
the intermediate spires, so as literally to form for the wall a diadem
of silver touched upon the points with gold; the image being rendered
still more distinct in the Casa d' Oro, by variation in the height of
the pinnacles, the highest being in the centre of the front.

Very few of these light roof parapets now remain; they are, of course,
the part of the building which dilapidation first renders it necessary
to remove. That of the Ducal Palace, however, though often, I doubt not,
restored, retains much of the ancient form, and is exceedingly
beautiful, though it has no appearance from below of being intended for
protection, but serves only, by its extreme lightness, to relieve the
eye when wearied by the breadth of wall beneath; it is nevertheless a
most serviceable defence for any person walking along the edge of the
roof. It has some appearance of insecurity, owing to the entire
independence of the pieces of stone composing it, which, though of
course fastened by iron, look as if they stood balanced on the cornice
like the pillars of Stonehenge; but I have never heard of its having
been disturbed by anything short of an earthquake; and, as we have
seen, even the great earthquake of 1511, though it much injured the
Gorne, or battlements at the Casa d' Oro, and threw down several statues
at St. Mark's,[81] only shook one lily from the brow of the Ducal

[Illustration: Fig. XXIV.]

§ XV. Although, however, these light and fantastic forms appear to have
been universal in the battlements meant primarily for decoration, there
was another condition of parapet altogether constructed for the
protection of persons walking on the roofs or in the galleries of the
churches, and from these more substantial and simple defences, the
BALCONIES, to which the Gothic palaces owe half of their picturesque
effect, were immediately derived; the balcony being, in fact, nothing
more than a portion of such roof parapets arranged round a projecting
window-sill sustained on brackets, as in the central example of the
annexed figure. We must, therefore, examine these defensive balustrades
and the derivative balconies consecutively.

§ XVI. Obviously, a parapet with an unbroken edge, upon which the arm
may rest (a condition above noticed, Vol. I. p. 157., as essential to
the proper performance of its duty), can be constructed only in one of
three ways. It must either be (1) of solid stone, decorated, if at all,
by mere surface sculpture, as in the uppermost example in Fig. XXIV.,
above; or (2) pierced into some kind of tracery, as in the second; or
(3) composed of small pillars carrying a level bar of stone, as in the
third; this last condition being, in a diseased and swollen form,
familiar to us in the balustrades of our bridges.[82]

§ XVII. (1.) Of these three kinds, the first, which is employed for the
pulpit at Torcello and in the nave of St. Mark's, whence the uppermost
example is taken, is beautiful when sculpture so rich can be employed
upon it; but it is liable to objection, first, because it is heavy and
unlike a parapet when seen from below; and, secondly, because it is
inconvenient in use. The position of leaning over a balcony becomes
cramped and painful if long continued, unless the foot can be sometimes
advanced _beneath_ the ledge on which the arm leans, i. e. between the
balusters or traceries, which of course cannot be done in the solid
parapet: it is also more agreeable to be able to see partially down
through the penetrations, than to be obliged to lean far over the edge.
The solid parapet was rarely used in Venice after the earlier ages.

§ XVIII. (2.) The Traceried Parapet is chiefly used in the Gothic of the
North, from which the above example, in the Casa Contarini Fasan, is
directly derived. It is, when well designed, the richest and most
beautiful of all forms, and many of the best buildings of France and
Germany are dependent for half their effect upon it; its only fault
being a slight tendency to fantasticism. It was never frankly received
in Venice, where the architects had unfortunately returned to the
Renaissance forms before the flamboyant parapets were fully developed in
the North; but, in the early stage of the Renaissance, a kind of pierced
parapet was employed, founded on the old Byzantine interwoven
traceries; that is to say, the slab of stone was pierced here and there
with holes, and then an interwoven pattern traced on the surface round
them. The difference in system will be understood in a moment by
comparing the uppermost example in the figure at the side, which is a
Northern parapet from the Cathedral of Abbeville, with the lowest, from
a secret chamber in the Casa Foscari. It will be seen that the Venetian
one is far more simple and severe, yet singularly piquant, the black
penetrations telling sharply on the plain broad surface. Far inferior in
beauty, it has yet one point of superiority to that of Abbeville, that
it proclaims itself more definitely to be stone. The other has rather
the look of lace.

[Illustration: Fig. XXV.]

The intermediate figure is a panel of the main balcony of the Ducal
Palace, and is introduced here as being an exactly transitional
condition between the Northern and Venetian types. It was built when the
German Gothic workmen were exercising considerable influence over those
in Venice, and there was some chance of the Northern parapet introducing
itself. It actually did so, as above shown, in the Casa Contarini Fasan,
but was for the most part stoutly resisted and kept at bay by the
Byzantine form, the lowest in the last figure, until that form itself
was displaced by the common, vulgar, Renaissance baluster; a grievous
loss, for the severe pierced type was capable of a variety as endless as
the fantasticism of our own Anglo-Saxon manuscript ornamentation.

§ XIX. (3.) The Baluster Parapet. Long before the idea of tracery had
suggested itself to the minds either of Venetian or any other
architects, it had, of course, been necessary to provide protection for
galleries, edges of roofs, &c.; and the most natural form in which such
protection could be obtained was that of a horizontal bar or hand-rail,
sustained upon short shafts or balusters, as in Fig. XXIV. p. 243. This
form was, above all others, likely to be adopted where variations of
Greek or Roman pillared architecture were universal in the larger masses
of the building; the parapet became itself a small series of columns,
with capitals and architraves; and whether the cross-bar laid upon them
should be simply horizontal, and in contact with their capitals, or
sustained by mimic arches, round or pointed, depended entirely on the
system adopted in the rest of the work. Where the large arches were
round, the small balustrade arches would be so likewise; where those
were pointed, these would become so in sympathy with them.

§ XX. Unfortunately, wherever a balcony or parapet is used in an
inhabited house, it is, of course, the part of the structure which first
suffers from dilapidation, as well as that of which the security is most
anxiously cared for. The main pillars of a casement may stand for
centuries unshaken under the steady weight of the superincumbent wall,
but the cement and various insetting of the balconies are sure to be
disturbed by the irregular pressures and impulses of the persons leaning
on them; while, whatever extremity of decay may be allowed in other
parts of the building, the balcony, as soon as it seems dangerous, will
assuredly be removed or restored. The reader will not, if he considers
this, be surprised to hear that, among all the remnants of the Venetian
domestic architecture of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth
centuries, there is not a single instance of the original balconies
being preserved. The palace mentioned below (§ XXXII.), in the piazza of
the Rialto, has, indeed, solid slabs of stone between its shafts, but I
cannot be certain that they are of the same period; if they are, this is
the only existing example of the form of protection employed for
casements during this transitional period, and it cannot be reasoned
from as being the general one.

§ XXI. It is only, therefore, in the churches of Torcello, Murano, and
St. Mark's, that the ancient forms of gallery defence may still be seen.
At Murano, between the pillars of the apse, a beautiful balustrade is
employed, of which a single arch is given in the Plate opposite, fig. 4,
with its section, fig. 5.; and at St. Mark's, a noble round-arched
parapet, with small pillars of precisely the same form as those of
Murano, but shorter, and bound at the angles into groups of four by the
serpentine knot so often occurring in Lombardic work, runs round the
whole exterior of the lower story of the church, and round great part of
its interior galleries, alternating with the more fantastic form, fig.
6. In domestic architecture, the remains of the original balconies begin
to occur first in the beginning of the fourteenth century, when the
round arch had entirely disappeared; and the parapet consists, almost
without exception, of a series of small trefoiled arches, cut boldly
through a bar of stone which rests upon the shafts, at first very
simple, and generally adorned with a cross at the point of each arch, as
in fig. 7 in the last Plate, which gives the angle of such a balcony on
a large scale; but soon enriched into the beautiful conditions, figs. 2
and 3, and sustained on brackets formed of lions' heads, as seen in the
central example of their entire effect, fig. 1.

[Illustration: Plate XIII.

§ XXII. In later periods, the round arches return; then the interwoven
Byzantine form; and finally, as above noticed, the common English or
classical balustrade; of which, however, exquisite examples, for grace
and variety of outline, are found designed in the backgrounds of Paul
Veronese. I could willingly follow out this subject fully, but it is
impossible to do so without leaving Venice; for the chief city of Italy,
as far as regards the strict effect of the balcony, is Verona; and if we
were once to lose ourselves among the sweet shadows of its lonely
streets, where the falling branches of the flowers stream like fountains
through the pierced traceries of the marble, there is no saying whether
we might soon be able to return to our immediate work. Yet before
leaving the subject of the balcony[83] altogether, I must allude, for a
moment, to the peculiar treatment of the iron-work out of which it is
frequently wrought on the mainland of Italy--never in Venice. The iron
is always wrought, not cast, beaten first into thin leaves, and then cut
either into strips or bands, two or three inches broad, which are bent
into various curves to form the sides of the balcony, or else into
actual leafage, sweeping and free, like the leaves of nature, with which
it is richly decorated. There is no end to the variety of design, no
limit to the lightness and flow of the forms, which the workman can
produce out of iron treated in this manner; and it is very nearly as
impossible for any metal-work, so handled, to be poor, or ignoble in
effect, as it is for cast metal-work to be otherwise.

§ XXIII. We have next to examine those features of the Gothic palaces in
which the transitions of their architecture are most distinctly
traceable; namely, the arches of the windows and doors.

It has already been repeatedly stated, that the Gothic style had formed
itself completely on the mainland, while the Byzantines still retained
their influence at Venice; and that the history of early Venetian Gothic
is therefore not that of a school taking new forms independently of
external influence, but the history of the struggle of the Byzantine
manner with a contemporary style quite as perfectly organized as itself,
and far more energetic. And this struggle is exhibited partly in the
gradual change of the Byzantine architecture into other forms, and
partly by isolated examples of genuine Gothic taken prisoner, as it
were, in the contest; or rather entangled among the enemy's forces, and
maintaining their ground till their friends came up to sustain them. Let
us first follow the steps of the gradual change, and then give some
brief account of the various advanced guards and forlorn hopes of the
Gothic attacking force.

[Illustration: Plate XIV.

§ XXIV. The uppermost shaded series of six forms of windows in Plate
XIV., opposite, represents, at a glance, the modifications of this
feature in Venetian palaces, from the eleventh to the fifteenth century.
Fig. 1 is Byzantine, of the eleventh and twelfth centuries; figs. 2
and 3 transitional, of the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries;
figs. 4 and 5 pure Gothic, of the thirteenth, fourteenth and early
fifteenth; and fig. 6. late Gothic, of the fifteenth century,
distinguished by its added finial. Fig. 4 is the longest-lived of all
these forms: it occurs first in the thirteenth century; and, sustaining
modifications only in its mouldings, is found also in the middle of the

I shall call these the six orders[84] of Venetian windows, and when I
speak of a window of the fourth, second, or sixth order, the reader will
only have to refer to the numerals at the top of Plate XIV.

Then the series below shows the principal forms found in each period,
belonging to each several order; except 1 _b_ to 1 _c_, and the two
lower series, numbered 7 to 16, which are types of Venetian doors.

§ XXV. We shall now be able, without any difficulty, to follow the
course of transition, beginning with the first order, 1 and 1 _a_, in
the second row. The horse-shoe arch, 1 _b_, is the door-head commonly
associated with it, and the other three in the same row occur in St.
Mark's exclusively; 1 _c_ being used in the nave, in order to give a
greater appearance of lightness to its great lateral arcades, which at
first the spectator supposes to be round-arched, but he is struck by a
peculiar grace and elasticity in the curves for which he is unable to
account, until he ascends into the galleries whence the true form of the
arch is discernible. The other two--1 _d_, from the door of the
southern transept, and 1 _c_, from that of the treasury,--sufficiently
represent a group of fantastic forms derived from the Arabs, and of
which the exquisite decoration is one of the most important features in
St. Mark's. Their form is indeed permitted merely to obtain more fantasy
in the curves of this decoration.[85] The reader can see in a moment,
that, as pieces of masonry, or bearing arches, they are infirm or
useless, and therefore never could be employed in any building in which
dignity of structure was the primal object. It is just because structure
is _not_ the primal object in St. Mark's, because it has no severe
weights to bear, and much loveliness of marble and sculpture to exhibit,
that they are therein allowable. They are of course, like the rest of
the building, built of brick and faced with marble, and their inner
masonry, which must be very ingenious, is therefore not discernible.
They have settled a little, as might have been expected, and the
consequence is, that there is in every one of them, except the upright
arch of the treasury, a small fissure across the marble of the flanks.

[Illustration: Fig. XXVI.]

§ XXVI. Though, however, the Venetian builders adopted these Arabian
forms of arch where grace of ornamentation was their only purpose, they
saw that such arrangements were unfit for ordinary work; and there is no
instance, I believe, in Venice, of their having used any of them for a
dwelling-house in the truly Byzantine period. But so soon as the Gothic
influence began to be felt, and the pointed arch forced itself upon
them, their first concession to its attack was the adoption, in
preference to the round arch, of the form 3 _a_ (Plate XIV., above); the
point of the Gothic arch forcing itself up, as it were, through the top
of the semicircle which it was soon to supersede.

§ XXVII. The woodcut above, Fig. XXVI., represents the door and two of
the lateral windows of a house in the Corte del Remer, facing the Grand
Canal, in the parish of the Apostoli. It is remarkable as having its
great entrance on the first floor, attained by a bold flight of steps,
sustained on pure _pointed_ arches wrought in brick. I cannot tell if
these arches are contemporary with the building, though it must always
have had an access of the kind. The rest of its aspect is Byzantine,
except only that the rich sculptures of its archivolt show in combats of
animals, beneath the soffit, a beginning of the Gothic fire and energy.
The moulding of its plinth is of a Gothic profile,[86] and the windows
are pointed, not with a reversed curve, but in a pure straight gable,
very curiously contrasted with the delicate bending of the pieces of
marble armor cut for the shoulders of each arch. There is a two-lighted
window, such as that seen in the vignette, on each side of the door,
sustained in the centre by a basket-worked Byzantine capital: the mode
of covering the brick archivolt with marble, both in the windows and
doorway, is precisely like that of the true Byzantine palaces.

[Illustration: Fig. XXVII.]

§ XXVIII. But as, even on a small scale, these arches are weak, if
executed in brickwork, the appearance of this sharp point in the outline
was rapidly accompanied by a parallel change in the method of building;
and instead of constructing the arch of brick and coating it with
marble, the builders formed it of three pieces of hewn stone inserted
in the wall, as in Fig. XXVII. Not, however, at first in this perfect
form. The endeavor to reconcile the grace of the reversed arch with the
strength of the round one, and still to build in brick, ended at first
in conditions such as that represented at _a_, Fig. XXVIII., which is a
window in the Calle del Pistor, close to the church of the Apostoli, a
very interesting and perfect example. Here, observe, the poor round arch
is still kept to do all the hard work, and the fantastic ogee takes its
pleasure above, in the form of a moulding merely, a chain of bricks cast
to the required curve. And this condition, translated into stone-work,
becomes a window of the second order (_b_5, Fig. XXVIII., or 2, in Plate
XIV.); a form perfectly strong and serviceable, and of immense
importance in the transitional architecture of Venice.

[Illustration: Fig. XXVIII.]

§ XXIX. At _b_, Fig. XXVIII., as above, is given one of the earliest and
simplest occurrences of the second order window (in a double group,
exactly like the brick transitional form _a_), from a most important
fragment of a defaced house in the Salizzada San Liò, close to the
Merceria. It is associated with a fine _pointed_ brick arch,
indisputably of contemporary work, towards the close of the thirteenth
century, and it is shown to be later than the previous example, _a_, by
the greater developement of its mouldings. The archivolt profile,
indeed, is the simpler of the two, not having the sub-arch; as in the
brick example; but the other mouldings are far more developed. Fig.
XXIX. shows at 1 the arch profiles, at 2 the capital profiles, at 3 the
basic-plinth profiles, of each window, _a_ and _b_.

[Illustration: Fig. XXIX.]

§ XXX. But the second order window soon attained nobler developement. At
once simple, graceful, and strong, it was received into all the
architecture of the period, and there is hardly a street in Venice which
does not exhibit some important remains of palaces built with this form
of window in many stories, and in numerous groups. The most extensive
and perfect is one upon the Grand Canal in the parish of the Apostoli,
near the Rialto, covered with rich decoration, in the Byzantine manner,
between the windows of its first story; but not completely
characteristic of the transitional period, because still retaining the
dentil in the arch mouldings, while the transitional houses all have the
simple roll. Of the fully established type, one of the most extensive
and perfect examples is in a court in the Calle di Rimedio, close to the
Ponte dell' Angelo, near St. Mark's Place. Another looks out upon a
small square garden, one of the few visible in the centre of Venice,
close by the Corte Salviati (the latter being known to every cicerone as
that from which Bianca Capello fled). But, on the whole, the most
interesting to the traveller is that of which I have given a vignette

But for this range of windows, the little piazza SS. Apostoli would be
one of the least picturesque in Venice; to those, however, who seek it
on foot, it becomes geographically interesting from the extraordinary
involution of the alleys leading to it from the Rialto. In Venice, the
straight road is usually by water, and the long road by land; but the
difference of distance appears, in this case, altogether inexplicable.
Twenty or thirty strokes of the oar will bring a gondola from the foot
of the Rialto to that of the Ponte SS. Apostoli; but the unwise
pedestrian, who has not noticed the white clue beneath his feet,[87] may
think himself fortunate, if, after a quarter of an hour's wandering
among the houses behind the Fondaco de' Tedeschi, he finds himself
anywhere in the neighborhood of the point he seeks. With much patience,
however, and modest following of the guidance of the marble thread, he
will at last emerge over a steep bridge into the open space of the
Piazza, rendered cheerful in autumn by a perpetual market of
pomegranates, and purple gourds, like enormous black figs; while the
canal, at its extremity, is half-blocked up by barges laden with vast
baskets of grapes as black as charcoal, thatched over with their own

Looking back, on the other side of this canal, he will see the windows
represented in Plate XV., which, with the arcade of pointed arches
beneath them, are the remains of the palace once belonging to the
unhappy doge, Marino Faliero.

The balcony is, of course, modern, and the series of windows has been of
greater extent, once terminated by a pilaster on the left hand, as well
as on the right; but the terminal arches have been walled up. What
remains, however, is enough, with its sculptured birds and dragons, to
give the reader a very distinct idea of the second order window in its
perfect form. The details of the capitals, and other minor portions, if
these interest him, he will find given in the final Appendix.

[Illustration: Plate XV.
               CASA FALIER.]

§ XXXI. The advance of the Gothic spirit was, for a few years, checked
by this compromise between the round and pointed arch. The truce,
however, was at last broken, in consequence of the discovery that the
keystone would do duty quite as well in the form _b_ as in the form _a_,
Fig. XXX., and the substitution of _b_, at the head of the arch, gives
us the window of the third order, 3 _b_, 3 _d_, and 3 _e_, in Plate XIV.
The forms 3 _a_ and 3 _c_ are exceptional; the first occurring, as we
have seen, in the Corte del Remer, and in one other palace on the Grand
Canal, close to the Church of St. Eustachio; the second only, as far as
I know, in one house on the Canna-Reggio, belonging to the true Gothic
period. The other three examples, 3 _b_, 3 _d_, 3 _e_, are generally
characteristic of the third order; and it will be observed that they
differ not merely in mouldings, but in slope of sides, and this latter
difference is by far the most material. For in the example 3 _b_ there
is hardly any true Gothic expression; it is still the pure Byzantine
arch, with a point thrust up through it: but the moment the flanks
slope, as in 3 _d_, the Gothic expression is definite, and the entire
school of the architecture is changed.

[Illustration: Fig. XXX.]

This slope of the flanks occurs, first, in so slight a degree as to be
hardly perceptible, and gradually increases until, reaching the form 3
_e_ at the close of the thirteenth century, the window is perfectly
prepared for a transition into the fifth order.

§ XXXII. The most perfect examples of the third order in Venice are the
windows of the ruined palace of Marco Querini, the father-in-law of
Bajamonte Tiepolo, in consequence of whose conspiracy against the
government this palace was ordered to be razed in 1310; but it was only
partially ruined, and was afterwards used as the common shambles. The
Venetians have now made a poultry market of the lower story (the
shambles being removed to a suburb), and a prison of the upper, though
it is one of the most important and interesting monuments in the city,
and especially valuable as giving us a secure date for the central form
of these very rare transitional windows. For, as it was the palace of
the father-in-law of Bajamonte, and the latter was old enough to assume
the leadership of a political faction in 1280,[88] the date of the
accession to the throne of the Doge Pietro Gradenigo, we are secure of
this palace having been built not later than the middle of the
thirteenth century. Another example, less refined in workmanship, but,
if possible, still more interesting, owing to the variety of its
capitals, remains in the little piazza opening to the Rialto, on the St.
Mark's side of the Grand Canal. The house faces the bridge, and its
second story has been built in the thirteenth century, above a still
earlier Byzantine cornice remaining, or perhaps introduced from some
other ruined edifice, in the walls of the first floor. The windows of
the second story are of pure third order; four of them are represented
above, with their flanking pilaster, and capitals varying constantly in
the form of the flower or leaf introduced between their volutes.

[Illustration: Fig. XXXI.]

§ XXXIII. Another most important example exists in the lower story of
the Casa Sagredo, on the Grand Canal, remarkable as having the early
upright form (3 _b_, Plate XIV.) with a somewhat late moulding. Many
others occur in the fragmentary ruins in the streets: but the two
boldest conditions which I found in Venice are those of the
Chapter-House of the Frari, in which the Doge Francesco Dandolo was
buried circa 1339; and those of the flank of the Ducal Palace itself
absolutely corresponding with those of the Frari, and therefore of
inestimable value in determining the date of the palace. Of these more

[Illustration: Plate XVI.

[Illustration: Fig. XXXII.]

§ XXXIV. Contemporarily with these windows of the second and third
orders, those of the fourth (4 _a_ and 4 _b_, in Plate XIV.) occur, at
first in pairs, and with simple mouldings, precisely similar to those of
the second order, but much more rare, as in the example at the side,
Fig. XXXII., from the Salizada San Liò; and then, enriching their
mouldings as shown in the continuous series 4 _c_, 4 _d_, of Plate XIV.,
associate themselves with the fifth order windows of the perfect Gothic
period. There is hardly a palace in Venice without some example, either
early or late, of these fourth order windows; but the Plate opposite
(XVI.) represents one of their purest groups at the close of the
thirteenth century, from a house on the Grand Canal, nearly opposite the
Church of the Scalzi. I have drawn it from the side, in order that the
great depth of the arches may be seen, and the clear detaching of the
shafts from the sheets of glass behind. The latter, as well as the
balcony, are comparatively modern; but there is no doubt that if glass
were used in the old window, it was set behind the shafts, at the same
depth. The entire modification of the interiors of all the Venetian
houses by recent work has however prevented me from entering into any
inquiry as to the manner in which the ancient glazing was attached to
the interiors of the windows.

The fourth order window is found in great richness and beauty at Verona,
down to the latest Gothic times, as well as in the earliest, being then
more frequent than any other form. It occurs, on a grand scale, in the
old palace of the Scaligers, and profusely throughout the streets of the
city. The series 4 _a_ to 4 _e_, Plate XIV., shows its most ordinary
conditions and changes of arch-line: 4 _a_ and 4 _b_ are the early
Venetian forms; 4 _c_, later, is general at Venice; 4 _d_, the best and
most piquant condition, owing to its fantastic and bold projection of
cusp, is common to Venice and Verona; 4 _e_ is early Veronese.

§ XXXV. The reader will see at once, in descending to the fifth row in
Plate XIV., representing the windows of the fifth order, that they are
nothing more than a combination of the third and fourth. By this union
they become the nearest approximation to a perfect Gothic form which
occurs characteristically at Venice; and we shall therefore pause on the
threshold of this final change, to glance back upon, and gather
together, those fragments of purer pointed architecture which were above
noticed as the forlorn hopes of the Gothic assault.

[Illustration: Fig. XXXIII.]

[Illustration: Fig. XXXIV.]

The little Campiello San Rocco is entered by a sotto-portico behind the
church of the Frari. Looking back, the upper traceries of the
magnificent apse are seen towering above the irregular roofs and
chimneys of the little square; and our lost Prout was enabled to bring
the whole subject into an exquisitely picturesque composition, by the
fortunate occurrence of four quaint trefoiled windows in one of the
houses on the right. Those trefoils are among the most ancient efforts
of Gothic art in Venice. I have given a rude sketch of them in Fig.
XXXIII. They are built entirely of brick, except the central shaft
and capital, which are of Istrian stone. Their structure is the simplest
possible; the trefoils being cut out of the radiating bricks which form
the pointed arch, and the edge or upper limit of that pointed arch
indicated by a roll moulding formed of cast bricks, in length of about a
foot, and ground at the bottom so as to meet in one, as in Fig. XXXIV.
The capital of the shaft is one of the earliest transitional forms;[89]
and observe the curious following out, even in this minor instance, of
the great law of centralization above explained with respect to the
Byzantine palaces. There is a central shaft, a pilaster on each side,
and then the wall. The pilaster has, by way of capital, a square flat
brick, projecting a little, and cast, at the edge, into the form of the
first type of all cornices (_a_, p. 63, Vol. I.; the reader ought to
glance back at this passage, if he has forgotten it); and the shafts and
pilasters all stand, without any added bases, on a projecting plinth of
the same simple profile. These windows have been much defaced; but I
have not the least doubt that their plinths are the original ones: and
the whole group is one of the most valuable in Venice, as showing the
way in which the humblest houses, in the noble times, followed out the
system of the larger palaces, as far as they could, in their rude
materials. It is not often that the dwellings of the lower orders are
preserved to us from the thirteenth century.

[Illustration: Plate XVII.

§ XXXVI. In the two upper lines of the opposite Plate (XVII.), I have
arranged some of the more delicate and finished examples of Gothic work
of this period. Of these, fig. 4 is taken from the outer arcade of San
Fermo of Verona, to show the condition of mainland architecture, from
which all these Venetian types were borrowed. This arch, together with
the rest of the arcade, is wrought in fine stone, with a band of inlaid
red brick, the whole chiselled and fitted with exquisite precision, all
Venetian work being coarse in comparison. Throughout the streets of
Verona, arches and windows of the thirteenth century are of continual
occurrence, wrought, in this manner, with brick and stone; sometimes
the brick alternating with the stones of the arch, as in the finished
example given in Plate XIX. of the first volume, and there selected in
preference to other examples of archivolt decoration, because furnishing
a complete type of the master school from which the Venetian Gothic is

§ XXXVII. The arch from St. Fermo, however, fig. 4, Plate XVII.,
corresponds more closely, in its entire simplicity, with the little
windows from the Campiello San Rocco; and with the type 5 set beside it
in Plate XVII., from a very ancient house in the Corte del Forno at
Santa Marina (all in brick); while the upper examples, 1 and 2, show the
use of the flat but highly enriched architrave, for the connection of
which with Byzantine work see the final Appendix, Vol. III., under the
head "Archivolt." These windows (figs. 1 and 2, Plate XVII.) are from a
narrow alley in a part of Venice now exclusively inhabited by the lower
orders, close to the arsenal;[90] they are entirely wrought in brick,
with exquisite mouldings, not cast, but _moulded in the clay by the
hand_, so that there is not one piece of the arch like another; the
pilasters and shafts being, as usual, of stone.

§ XXXVIII. And here let me pause for a moment, to note what one should
have thought was well enough known in England,--yet I could not perhaps
touch upon anything less considered,--the real use of brick. Our fields
of good clay were never given us to be made into oblong morsels of one
size. They were given us that we might play with them, and that men who
could not handle a chisel, might knead out of them some expression of
human thought. In the ancient architecture of the clay districts of
Italy, every possible adaptation of the material is found exemplified:
from the coarsest and most brittle kinds, used in the mass of the
structure, to bricks for arches and plinths, cast in the most perfect
curves, and of almost every size, strength, and hardness; and moulded
bricks, wrought into flower-work and tracery as fine as raised patterns
upon china. And, just as many of the finest works of the Italian
sculptors were executed in porcelain, many of the best thoughts of their
architects are expressed in brick, or in the softer material of terra
cotta; and if this were so in Italy, where there is not one city from
whose towers we may not descry the blue outline of Alp or Apennine,
everlasting quarries of granite or marble, how much more ought it to be
so among the fields of England! I believe that the best academy for her
architects, for some half century to come, would be the brick-field; for
of this they may rest assured, that till they know how to use clay, they
will never know how to use marble.

§ XXXIX. And now observe, as we pass from fig. 2 to fig. 3, and from
fig. 5 to fig. 6, in Plate XVII., a most interesting step of transition.
As we saw above, § XIV., the round arch yielding to the Gothic, by
allowing a point to emerge at its summit, so here we have the Gothic
conceding something to the form which had been assumed by the round; and
itself slightly altering its outline so as to meet the condescension of
the round arch half way. At page 137 of the first volume, I have drawn
to scale one of these minute concessions of the pointed arch, granted at
Verona out of pure courtesy to the Venetian forms, by one of the purest
Gothic ornaments in the world; and the small window here, fig. 6, is a
similar example at Venice itself, from the Campo Santa Maria Mater
Domini, where the reversed curve at the head of the pointed arch is just
perceptible and no more. The other examples, figs. 3 and 7, the first
from a small but very noble house in the Merceria, the second from an
isolated palace at Murano, show more advanced conditions of the reversed
curve, which, though still employing the broad decorated architrave of
the earlier examples, are in all other respects prepared for the
transition to the simple window of the fifth order.

§ XL. The next example, the uppermost of the three lower series in Plate
XVII., shows this order in its early purity; associated with
intermediate decorations like those of the Byzantines, from a palace
once belonging to the Erizzo family, near the Arsenal. The ornaments
appear to be actually of Greek workmanship (except, perhaps, the two
birds over the central arch, which are bolder, and more free in
treatment), and built into the Gothic fronts; showing, however, the
early date of the whole by the manner of their insertion, corresponding
exactly with that employed in the Byzantine palaces, and by the covering
of the intermediate spaces with sheets of marble, which, however,
instead of being laid over the entire wall, are now confined to the
immediate spaces between and above the windows, and are bounded by a
dentil moulding.

In the example below this the Byzantine ornamentation has vanished, and
the fifth order window is seen in its generic form, as commonly employed
throughout the early Gothic period. Such arcades are of perpetual
occurrence; the one in the Plate was taken from a small palace on the
Grand Canal, nearly opposite the Casa Foscari. One point in it deserves
especial notice, the increased size of the lateral window as compared
with the rest: a circumstance which occurs in a great number of the
groups of windows belonging to this period, and for which I have never
been able to account.

§ XLI. Both these figures have been most carefully engraved; and the
uppermost will give the reader a perfectly faithful idea of the general
effect of the Byzantine sculptures, and of the varied alabaster among
which they are inlaid, as well as of the manner in which these pieces
are set together, every joint having been drawn on the spot: and the
transition from the embroidered and silvery richness of this
architecture, in which the Byzantine ornamentation was associated with
the Gothic form of arch, to the simplicity of the pure Gothic arcade as
seen in the lower figure, is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the
history of Venetian art. If it had occurred suddenly, and at an earlier
period, it might have been traced partly to the hatred of the Greeks,
consequent upon the treachery of Manuel Comnenus,[91] and the fatal war
to which it led; but the change takes place gradually, and not till a
much later period. I hoped to have been able to make some careful
inquiries into the habits of domestic life of the Venetians before and
after the dissolution of their friendly relations with Constantinople;
but the labor necessary for the execution of my more immediate task has
entirely prevented this: and I must be content to lay the succession of
the architectural styles plainly before the reader, and leave the
collateral questions to the investigation of others; merely noting this
one assured fact, that _the root of all that is greatest in Christian
art is struck in the thirteenth century_; that the temper of that
century is the life-blood of all manly work thenceforward in Europe; and
I suppose that one of its peculiar characteristics was elsewhere, as
assuredly in Florence, a singular simplicity in domestic life:

  "I saw Bellincion Berti walk abroad
   In leathern girdle, and a clasp of bone;
   And, with no artful coloring on her cheeks,
   His lady leave the glass. The sons I saw
   Of Verli and of Vecchio, well content
   With unrobed jerkin, and their good dames handling
   The spindle and the flax....
   One waked to tend the cradle, hushing it
   With sounds that lulled the parents' infancy;
   Another, with her maidens, drawing off
   The tresses from the distaff, lectured them
   Old tales of Troy, and Fesole, and Rome."[92]

§ XLII. Such, then, is the simple fact at Venice, that from the
beginning of the thirteenth century there is found a singular increase
of simplicity in all architectural ornamentation; the rich Byzantine
capitals giving place to a pure and severe type hereafter to be
described,[93] and the rich sculptures vanishing from the walls, nothing
but the marble facing remaining. One of the most interesting examples of
this transitional state is a palace at San Severo, just behind the Casa
Zorzi. This latter is a Renaissance building, utterly worthless in every
respect, but known to the Venetian Ciceroni; and by inquiring for it,
and passing a little beyond it down the Fondamenta San Severo, the
traveller will see, on the other side of the canal, a palace which the
Ciceroni never notice, but which is unique in Venice for the
magnificence of the veined purple alabasters with which it has been
decorated, and for the manly simplicity of the foliage of its capitals.
Except in these, it has no sculpture whatever, and its effect is
dependent entirely on color. Disks of green serpentine are inlaid on the
field of purple alabaster; and the pillars are alternately of red marble
with white capitals, and of white marble with red capitals. Its windows
appear of the third order; and the back of the palace, in a small and
most picturesque court, shows a group of windows which are, perhaps, the
most superb examples of that order in Venice. But the windows to the
front have, I think, been of the fifth order, and their cusps have been
cut away.

§ XLIII. When the Gothic feeling began more decidedly to establish
itself, it evidently became a question with the Venetian builders, how
the intervals between the arches, now left blank by the abandonment of
the Byzantine sculptures, should be enriched in accordance with the
principles of the new school. Two most important examples are left of
the experiments made at this period: one at the Ponte del Forner, at San
Cassano, a noble house in which the spandrils of the windows are filled
by the emblems of the four Evangelists, sculptured in deep relief, and
touching the edges of the arches with their expanded wings; the other
now known as the Palazzo Cicogna, near the church of San Sebastiano, in
the quarter called "of the Archangel Raphael," in which a large space of
wall above the windows is occupied by an intricate but rude tracery of
involved quatrefoils. Of both these palaces I purposed to give drawings
in my folio work; but I shall probably be saved the trouble by the
publication of the beautiful calotypes lately made at Venice of both;
and it is unnecessary to represent them here, as they are unique in
Venetian architecture, with the single exception of an unimportant
imitation of the first of them in a little by-street close to the Campo
Sta. Maria Formosa. For the question as to the mode of decorating the
interval between the arches was suddenly and irrevocably determined by
the builder of the Ducal Palace, who, as we have seen, taking his first
idea from the traceries of the Frari, and arranging those traceries as
best fitted his own purpose, designed the great arcade (the lowest of
the three in Plate XVII.), which thenceforward became the established
model for every work of importance in Venice. The palaces built on this
model, however, most of them not till the beginning of the fifteenth
century, belong properly to the time of the Renaissance; and what little
we have to note respecting them may be more clearly stated in connexion
with other facts characteristic of that period.

§ XLIV. As the examples in Plate XVII. are necessarily confined to the
upper parts of the windows, I have given in the Plate opposite
(XVIII[94]) examples of the fifth order window, both in its earliest and
in its fully developed form, completed from base to keystone. The upper
example is a beautiful group from a small house, never of any size or
pretension, and now inhabited only by the poor, in the Campiello della
Strope, close to the Church of San Giacomo de Lorio. It is remarkable
for its excessive purity of curve, and is of very early date, its
mouldings being simpler than usual.[95] The lower example is from the
second story of a palace belonging to the Priuli family, near San
Lorenzo, and shows one feature to which our attention has not hitherto
been directed, namely, the penetration of the cusp, leaving only a
silver thread of stone traced on the darkness of the window. I need not
say that, in this condition, the cusp ceases to have any constructive
use, and is merely decorative, but often exceedingly beautiful. The
steps of transition from the early solid cusp to this slender thread are
noticed in the final Appendix, under the head "Tracery Bars;" the
commencement of the change being in the thinning of the stone, which is
not cut through until it is thoroughly emaciated. Generally speaking,
the condition in which the cusp is found is a useful test of age, when
compared with other points; the more solid it is, the more ancient: but
the massive form is often found associated with the perforated, as late
as the beginning of the fourteenth century. In the Ducal Palace, the
lower or bearing traceries have the solid cusp, and the upper traceries
of the windows, which are merely decorative., have the perforated cusp,
both with exquisite effect.

[Illustration: Plate XVIII.

§ XLV. The smaller balconies between the great shafts in the lower
example in Plate XVIII. are original and characteristic: not so the
lateral one of the detached window, which has been restored; but by
imagining it to be like that represented in fig. 1, Plate XIII., above,
which is a perfect window of the finest time of the fifth order, the
reader will be enabled to form a complete idea of the external
appearance of the principal apartments in the house of a noble of
Venice, at the beginning of the fourteenth century.

§ XLVI. Whether noble, or merchant, or, as frequently happened, both,
every Venetian appears, at this time, to have raised his palace or
dwelling-house upon one type. Under every condition of importance,
through every variation of size, the forms and mode of decoration of all
the features were universally alike; not servilely alike, but
fraternally; not with the sameness of coins cast from one mould, but
with the likeness of the members of one family. No fragment of the
period is preserved, in which the windows, be they few or many, a group
of three or an arcade of thirty, have not the noble cusped arch of the
fifth order. And they are especially to be noted by us at this day,
because these refined and richly ornamented forms were used in the
habitations of a nation as laborious, as practical, as brave, and as
prudent as ourselves; and they were built at a time when that nation was
struggling with calamities and changes threatening its existence almost
every hour. And, farther, they are interesting because perfectly
applicable to modern habitation. The refinement of domestic life appears
to have been far advanced in Venice from her earliest days; and the
remains of her Gothic palaces are, at this day, the most delightful
residences in the city, having undergone no change in external form, and
probably having been rather injured than rendered more convenient by the
modifications which poverty and Renaissance taste, contending with the
ravages of time, have introduced in the interiors. So that, in Venice,
and the cities grouped around it, Vicenza, Padua, and Verona, the
traveller may ascertain, by actual experience, the effect which would be
produced upon the comfort or luxury of daily life by the revival of the
Gothic school of architecture. He can still stand upon the marble
balcony in the soft summer air, and feel its smooth surface warm from
the noontide as he leans on it in the twilight; he can still see the
strong sweep of the unruined traceries drawn on the deep serenity of the
starry sky, and watch the fantastic shadows of the clustered arches
shorten in the moonlight on the chequered floor; or he may close the
casements fitted to their unshaken shafts against such wintry winds as
would have made an English house vibrate to its foundation, and, in
either case, compare their influence on his daily home feeling with that
of the square openings in his English wall.

§ XLVII. And let him be assured, if he find there is more to be enjoyed
in the Gothic window, there is also more to be trusted. It is the best
and strongest building, as it is the most beautiful. I am not now
speaking of the particular form of Venetian Gothic, but of the general
strength of the pointed arch as opposed to that of the level lintel of
the square window; and I plead for the introduction of the Gothic form
into our domestic architecture, not merely because it is lovely, but
because it is the only form of faithful, strong, enduring, and honorable
building, in such materials as come daily to our hands. By increase of
scale and cost, it is possible to build, in any style, what will last
for ages; but only in the Gothic is it possible to give security and
dignity to work wrought with imperfect means and materials. And I trust
that there will come a time when the English people may see the folly of
building basely and insecurely. It is common with those architects
against whose practice my writings have hitherto been directed, to call
them merely theoretical and imaginative. I answer, that there is not a
single principle asserted either in the "Seven Lamps" or here, but is of
the simplest, sternest veracity, and the easiest practicability; that
buildings, raised as I would have them, would stand unshaken for a
thousand years; and the buildings raised by the architects who oppose
them will not stand for one hundred and fifty, they sometimes do not
stand for an hour. There is hardly a week passes without some
catastrophe brought about by the base principles of modern building;
some vaultless floor that drops the staggering crowd through the jagged
rents of its rotten timbers; some baseless bridge that is washed away by
the first wave of a summer flood; some fungous wall of nascent
rottenness that a thunder-shower soaks down with its workmen into a heap
of slime and death.[96] These we hear of, day by day: yet these indicate
but the thousandth part of the evil. The portion of the national income
sacrificed in mere bad building, in the perpetual repairs, and swift
condemnation and pulling down of ill-built shells of houses, passes all
calculation. And the weight of the penalty is not yet felt; it will tell
upon our children some fifty years hence, when the cheap work, and
contract work, and stucco and plaster work, and bad iron work, and all
the other expedients of modern rivalry, vanity, and dishonesty, begin to
show themselves for what they are.

[Illustration: Fig. XXXV.]

§ XLVIII. Indeed, dishonesty and false economy will no more build safely
in Gothic than in any other style: but of all forms which we could
possibly employ, to be framed hastily and out of bad materials, the
common square window is the worst; and its level head of brickwork (_a_,
Fig. XXXV.) is the weakest way of covering a space. Indeed, in the
hastily heaped shells of modern houses, there may be seen often even a
worse manner of placing the bricks, as at _b_, supporting them by a bit
of lath till the mortar dries; but even when worked with the utmost
care, and having every brick tapered into the form of a voussoir and
accurately fitted, I have seen such a window-head give way, and a wide
fissure torn through all the brickwork above it, two years after it was
built; while the pointed arch of the Veronese Gothic, wrought in brick
also, occurs at every corner of the streets of the city, untouched since
the thirteenth century, and without a single flaw.

§ XLIX. Neither can the objection, so often raised against the pointed
arch, that it will not admit the convenient adjustment of modern sashes
and glass, hold for an instant. There is not the smallest necessity,
because the arch is pointed, that the aperture should be so. The work of
the arch is to sustain the building above; when this is once done
securely, the pointed head of it may be filled in any way we choose. In
the best cathedral doors it is always filled by a shield of solid stone;
in many early windows of the best Gothic it is filled in the same
manner, the introduced slab of stone becoming a field for rich
decoration; and there is not the smallest reason why lancet windows,
used in bold groups, with each pointed arch filled by a sculptured
tympanum, should not allow as much light to enter, and in as convenient
a way, as the most luxuriously glazed square windows of our brick
houses. Give the groups of associated lights bold gabled canopies;
charge the gables with sculpture and color; and instead of the base and
almost useless Greek portico, letting the rain and wind enter it at
will, build the steeply vaulted and completely sheltered Gothic porch;
and on all these fields for rich decoration let the common workman carve
what he pleases, to the best of his power, and we may have a school of
domestic architecture in the nineteenth century, which will make our
children grateful to us, and proud of us, till the thirtieth.

§ L. There remains only one important feature to be examined, the
entrance gate or door. We have already observed that the one seems to
pass into the other, a sign of increased love of privacy rather than of
increased humility, as the Gothic palaces assume their perfect form. In
the Byzantine palaces the entrances appear always to have been rather
great gates than doors, magnificent semicircular arches opening to the
water, and surrounded by rich sculpture in the archivolts. One of these
entrances is seen in the small woodcut above, Fig. XXV., and another has
been given carefully in my folio work: their sculpture is generally of
grotesque animals scattered among leafage, without any definite meaning;
but the great outer entrance of St. Mark's, which appears to have been
completed some time after the rest of the fabric, differs from all
others in presenting a series of subjects altogether Gothic in feeling,
selection, and vitality of execution, and which show the occult entrance
of the Gothic spirit before it had yet succeeded in effecting any
modification of the Byzantine forms. These sculptures represent the
months of the year employed in the avocations usually attributed to them
throughout the whole compass of the middle ages, in Northern
architecture and manuscript calendars, and at last exquisitely versified
by Spenser. For the sake of the traveller in Venice, who should examine
this archivolt carefully, I shall enumerate these sculptures in their
order, noting such parallel representations as I remember in other work.

§ LI. There are four successive archivolts, one within the other,
forming the great central entrance of St. Mark's. The first is a
magnificent external arch, formed of obscure figures mingled among
masses of leafage, as in ordinary Byzantine work; within this there is a
hemispherical dome, covered with modern mosaic; and at the back of this
recess the other three archivolts follow consecutively, two sculptured,
one plain; the one with which we are concerned is the outermost.

It is carved both on its front and under-surface or soffit; on the front
are seventeen female figures bearing scrolls, from which the legends are
unfortunately effaced. These figures were once gilded on a dark blue
ground, as may still be seen in Gentile Bellini's picture of St. Mark's
in the Accademia delle Belle Arti. The sculptures of the months are on
the under-surface, beginning at the bottom on the left hand of the
spectator as he enters, and following in succession round the archivolt;
separated, however, into two groups, at its centre, by a beautiful
figure of the youthful Christ, sitting in the midst of a slightly
hollowed sphere covered with stars to represent the firmament, and with
the attendant sun and moon, set one on each side to rule over the day
and over the night.

§ LII. The months are personified as follows:--

1. JANUARY, _Carrying home a noble tree on his shoulders, the leafage of
which nods forwards, and falls nearly to his feet._ Superbly cut. This
is a rare representation of him. More frequently he is represented as
the two-headed Janus, sitting at a table, drinking at one mouth and
eating at the other. Sometimes as an old man, warming his feet at a
fire, and drinking from a bowl; though this type is generally reserved
for February. Spenser, however, gives the same symbol as that on St.

     "Numbd with holding all the day
  An hatchet keene, with which he felled wood."

His sign, Aquarius, is obscurely indicated in the archivolt by some wavy
lines representing water, unless the figure has been broken away.

2. FEBRUARY. _Sitting in a carved chair, warming his bare feet at a
blazing fire._ Generally, when he is thus represented, there is a pot
hung over the fire, from the top of the chimney. Sometimes he is pruning
trees, as in Spenser:

               "Yet had he by his side
  His plough and harnesse fit to till the ground,
  And tooles to prune the trees."

Not unfrequently, in the calendars, this month is represented by a
female figure carrying candles, in honor of the Purification of the

His sign, Pisces, is prominently carved above him.

3. MARCH. Here, as almost always in Italy, _a warrior_: the Mars of the
Latins being of course, in mediæval work, made representative of the
military power of the place and period; and thus, at Venice, having the
winged Lion painted upon his shield. In Northern work, however, I think
March is commonly employed in pruning trees; or, at least, he is so
when that occupation is left free for him by February's being engaged
with the ceremonies of Candlemas. Sometimes, also, he is reaping a low
and scattered kind of grain; and by Spenser, who exactly marks the
junction of mediæval and classical feeling, his military and
agricultural functions are united, while also, in the Latin manner, he
is made the first of the months.

  "First sturdy March, with brows full sternly bent,
   And armed strongly, rode upon a Ram,
   The same which over Hellespontus swam;
   Yet in his hand a spade he also bent,
   And in a bag all sorts of seeds ysame,[97]
   Which on the earth he strowed as he went."

His sign, the Ram, is very superbly carved above him in the archivolt.

4. APRIL. Here, _carrying a sheep upon his shoulder_. A rare
representation of him. In Northern work he is almost universally
gathering flowers, or holding them triumphantly in each hand. The
Spenserian mingling of this mediæval image with that of his being wet
with showers, and wanton with love, by turning his zodiacal sign,
Taurus, into the bull of Europa, is altogether exquisite.

  "Upon a Bull he rode, the same which led
   Europa floting through the Argolick fluds:
   His horns were gilden all with golden studs,
   And garnished with garlonds goodly dight
   Of all the fairest flowres and freshest buds
   Which th' earth brings forth; and _wet he seemed in sight
   With waves, through which he waded for his love's delight_."

5. MAY _is seated, while two young maidens crown him with flowers._ A
very unusual representation, even in Italy; where, as in the North, he
is almost always riding out hunting or hawking, sometimes playing on a
musical instrument. In Spenser, this month is personified as "the
fayrest mayd on ground," borne on the shoulders of the Twins.

In this archivolt there are only two heads to represent the zodiacal

The summer and autumnal months are always represented in a series of
agricultural occupations, which, of course, vary with the locality in
which they occur; but generally in their order only. Thus, if June is
mowing, July is reaping; if July is mowing, August is reaping; and so
on. I shall give a parallel view of some of these varieties presently;
but, meantime, we had better follow the St Mark's series, as it is
peculiar in some respects.

6. JUNE. _Reaping._ The corn and sickle sculptured with singular care
and precision, in bold relief, and the zodiacal sign, the Crab, above,
also worked with great spirit. Spenser puts plough irons into his hand.
Sometimes he is sheep-shearing; and, in English and northern French
manuscripts, carrying a kind of fagot or barrel, of the meaning of which
I am not certain.

7. JULY. _Mowing._ A very interesting piece of sculpture, owing to the
care with which the flowers are wrought out among the long grass. I do
not remember ever finding July but either reaping or mowing. Spenser
works him hard, and puts him to both labors:

  "Behinde his backe a sithe, and by his side
   Under his belt he bore a sickle circling wide."

8. AUGUST. Peculiarly represented in this archivolt, _sitting in a
chair, with his head upon his hand, as if asleep; the Virgin_ (the
zodiacal sign) _above him, lifting up her hand_. This appears to be a
peculiarly Italian version of the proper employment of August. In
Northern countries he is generally threshing, or gathering grapes.
Spenser merely clothes him with gold, and makes him lead forth

             "the righteous Virgin, which of old
  Lived here on earth, and plenty made abound."

9. SEPTEMBER. _Bearing home grapes in a basket._ Almost always sowing,
in Northern work. By Spenser, with his usual exquisite ingenuity,
employed in gathering in the general harvest, and _portioning it out
with the Scales_, his zodiacal sign.

10. OCTOBER. _Wearing a conical hat, and digging busily with a long
spade._ In Northern work he is sometimes a vintager, sometimes beating
the acorns out of an oak to feed swine. When September is vintaging,
October is generally sowing. Spenser employs him in the harvest both of
vine and olive.

11. NOVEMBER. _Seems to be catching small birds in a net._ I do not
remember him so employed elsewhere. He is nearly always killing pigs;
sometimes beating the oak for them; with Spenser, fatting them.

12. DECEMBER. _Killing swine._ It is hardly ever that this employment is
not given to one or other of the terminal months of the year. If not so
engaged, December is usually putting new loaves into the oven; sometimes
killing oxen. Spenser properly makes him feasting and drinking instead
of January.

§ LIII. On the next page I have given a parallel view of the employment
of the months from some Northern manuscripts, in order that they may be
more conveniently compared with the sculptures of St. Mark's, in their
expression of the varieties of climate and agricultural system. Observe
that the letter (f.) in some of the columns, opposite the month of May,
means that he has a falcon on his fist; being, in those cases,
represented as riding out, in high exultation, on a caparisoned white
horse. A series nearly similar to that of St. Mark's occurs on the door
of the Cathedral of Lucca, and on that of the Baptistery of Pisa; in
which, however, if I recollect rightly, February is fishing, and May has
something resembling an umbrella in his hand, instead of a hawk. But, in
all cases, the figures are treated with the peculiar spirit of the
Gothic sculptors; and this archivolt is the first expression of that
spirit which is to be found in Venice.


 |         |              |   MS. French. |   MS. French. |   MS. French. |
 |         | St. Mark's.  |   Late 13th   |   Late 13th   |   Late 13th   |
 |         |              |    Century    |    Century    |    Century    |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |January  |Carrying wood.|Janus feasting.|Janus feasting.|Drinking and   |
 |         |              |               |               | stirring fire.|
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |February |Warming feet. |Warming feet.  |Warming feet.  |Pruning.       |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |March    |Going to war. |Pruning.       |Pruning.       |Striking       |
 |         |              |               |               | with axe.     |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |April    |Carrying      |Gathering      |Gathering      |Gathering      |
 |         | sheep.       | flowers.      | flowers.      | flowers.      |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |May      |Crowned with  |Riding (f.).   |Riding (f.).   |Playing        |
 |         | flowers.     |               |               | violin.       |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |June     |Reaping.      |Mowing.        |Mowing.        |Gathering large|
 |         |              |               |               | red flowers.  |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |July     |Mowing.       |Reaping.       |Reaping.       |Mowing.        |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |August   |Asleep.       |Threshing.     |Gathering      |Reaping.       |
 |         |              |               | grapes.       |               |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |September|Carrying      |Sowing.        |Sowing.        |Drinking wine. |
 |         | grapes.      |               |               |               |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |October  |Digging.      |Gathering      |Beating oak.   |Sowing.        |
 |         |              | grapes.       |               |               |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |November |Catching      |Beating oak.   |Killing swine. |Killing swine. |
 |         | birds.       |               |               |               |
 |         |              |               |               |               |
 |December |Killing swine.|Killing swine. |Baking.        |Killing oxen.  |

 |         |    MS. French.    |   MS. English.    |   MS. Flemish.   |
 |         |Early 14th Century.|Early 15th Century.|  15th Century.   |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |January  |Warming feet.      | Janus feasting.   |Feasting          |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |February |Bearing candles.   | Warming feet.     |Warming hands.    |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |March    |Pruning.           | Carrying candles. |Reaping.          |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |April    |Gathering flowers. | Pruning.          |Gathering flowers.|
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |May      |Riding (f.).       | Riding (f.).      |Riding with lady  |
 |         |                   |                   | on pillion.      |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |June     |Carrying (fagots?) | Carrying fagots.  |Sheep-shearing.   |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |July     |Mowing.            | Mowing.           |Mowing.           |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |August   |Reaping.           | Reaping.          |Reaping.          |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |September|Threshing.         | Threshing.        |Sowing.           |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |October  |Sowing.            | Sowing.           |Beating oak.      |
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |November |Killing swine.     | Killing swine.    |Pressing (grapes?)|
 |         |                   |                   |                  |
 |December |Baking.            | Baking.           |Killing swine.    |

§ LIV. In the private palaces, the entrances soon admitted some
concession to the Gothic form also. They pass through nearly the same
conditions of change as the windows, with these three differences:
first, that no arches of the fantastic fourth order occur in any
doorways; secondly, that the pure pointed arch occurs earlier, and much
oftener, in doorways than in window-heads; lastly, that the entrance
itself, if small, is nearly always square-headed in the earliest
examples, without any arch above, but afterwards the arch is thrown
across above the lintel. The interval between the two, or tympanum, is
filled with sculpture, or closed by iron bars, with sometimes a
projecting gable, to form a porch, thrown over the whole, as in the
perfect example, 7 _a_, Plate XIV., above. The other examples in the two
lower lines, 6 and 7, of that Plate are each characteristic of an
enormous number of doors, variously decorated, from the thirteenth to
the close of the fifteenth century. The particulars of their mouldings
are given in the final Appendix.

§ LV. It was useless, on the small scale of this Plate, to attempt any
delineation of the richer sculptures with which the arches are filled;
so that I have chosen for it the simplest examples I could find of the
forms to be illustrated: but, in all the more important instances, the
door-head is charged either with delicate ornaments and inlaid patterns
in variously colored brick, or with sculptures, consisting always of the
shield or crest of the family, protected by an angel. Of these more
perfect doorways I have given three examples carefully, in my folio
work; but I must repeat here one part of the account of their subjects
given in its text, for the convenience of those to whom the larger work
may not be accessible.

§ LVI. "In the earlier ages, all agree thus far, that the name of the
family is told, and together with it there is always an intimation that
they have placed their defence and their prosperity in God's hands;
frequently accompanied with some general expression of benediction to
the person passing over the threshold. This is the general theory of an
old Venetian doorway;--the theory of modern doorways remains to be
explained: it may be studied to advantage in our rows of new-built
houses, or rather of new-built house, changeless for miles together,
from which, to each inhabitant, we allot his proper quantity of windows,
and a Doric portico. The Venetian carried out his theory very simply. In
the centre of the archivolt we find almost invariably, in the older
work, the hand between the sun and moon in the attitude of blessing,
expressing the general power and presence of God, the source of light.
On the tympanum is the shield of the family. Venetian heraldry requires
no beasts for supporters, but usually prefers angels, neither the
supporters nor crests forming any necessary part of Venetian bearings.
Sometimes, however, human figures, or grotesques, are substituted; but,
in that case, an angel is almost always introduced above the shield,
bearing a globe in his left hand, and therefore clearly intended for the
'Angel of the Lord,' or, as it is expressed elsewhere, the 'Angel of His
Presence.' Where elaborate sculpture of this kind is inadmissible, the
shield is merely represented as suspended by a leather thong; and a
cross is introduced above the archivolt. The Renaissance architects
perceived the irrationality of all this, cut away both crosses and
angels, and substituted heads of satyrs, which were the proper presiding
deities of Venice in the Renaissance periods, and which in our own
domestic institutions, we have ever since, with much piety and sagacity,

§ LVII. The habit of employing some religious symbol, or writing some
religious legend, over the door of the house, does not entirely
disappear until far into the period of the Renaissance. The words "Peace
be to this house" occur on one side of a Veronese gateway, with the
appropriate and veracious inscription S.P.Q.R., on a Roman standard, on
the other; and "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," is
written on one of the doorways of a building added at the flank of the
Casa Barbarigo, in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. It seems to be
only modern Protestantism which is entirely ashamed of _all_ symbols and
words that appear in anywise like a confession of faith.

§ LVIII. This peculiar feeling is well worthy of attentive analysis. It
indeed, in most cases, hardly deserves the name of a feeling; for the
meaningless doorway is merely an ignorant copy of heathen models: but
yet, if it were at this moment proposed to any of us, by our architects,
to remove the grinning head of a satyr, or other classical or Palladian
ornament, from the keystone of the door, and to substitute for it a
cross, and an inscription testifying our faith, I believe that most
persons would shrink from the proposal with an obscure and yet
overwhelming sense that things would be sometimes done, and thought,
within the house which would make the inscription on its gate a base
hypocrisy. And if so, let us look to it, whether that strong reluctance
to utter a definite religious profession, which so many of us feel, and
which, not very carefully examining into its dim nature, we conclude to
be modesty, or fear of hypocrisy, or other such form of amiableness, be
not, in very deed, neither less nor more than Infidelity; whether
Peter's "I know not the man" be not the sum and substance of all these
misgivings and hesitations; and whether the shamefacedness which we
attribute to sincerity and reverence, be not such shamefacedness as may
at last put us among those of whom the Son of Man shall be ashamed.

§ LIX. Such are the principal circumstances to be noted in the external
form and details of the Gothic palaces; of their interior arrangements
there is little left unaltered. The gateways which we have been
examining almost universally lead, in the earlier palaces, into a long
interior court, round which the mass of the palace is built; and in
which its first story is reached by a superb external staircase,
sustained on four or five pointed arches gradually increasing as they
ascend, both in height and span,--this change in their size being, so
far as I remember, peculiar to Venice, and visibly a consequence of the
habitual admission of arches of different sizes in the Byzantine
façades. These staircases are protected by exquisitely carved parapets,
like those of the outer balconies, with lions or grotesque heads set on
the angles, and with true projecting balconies on their landing-places.
In the centre of the court there is always a marble well; and these
wells furnish some of the most superb examples of Venetian sculpture. I
am aware only of one remaining from the Byzantine period; it is
octagonal, and treated like the richest of our Norman fonts: but the
Gothic wells of every date, from the thirteenth century downwards, are
innumerable, and full of beauty, though their form is little varied;
they being, in almost every case, treated like colossal capitals of
pillars, with foliage at the angles, and the shield of the family upon
their sides.

§ LX. The interior apartments always consist of one noble hall on the
first story, often on the second also, extending across the entire depth
of the house, and lighted in front by the principal groups of its
windows, while smaller apartments open from it on either side. The
ceilings, where they remain untouched, are of bold horizontal beams,
richly carved and gilded; but few of these are left from the true Gothic
times, the Venetian interiors having, in almost every case, been
remodelled by the Renaissance architects. This change, _however_, for
once, we cannot regret, as the walls and ceilings, when so altered, were
covered with the noblest works of Veronese, Titian, and Tintoret; nor
the interior walls only, but, as before noticed, often the exteriors
also. Of the color decorations of the Gothic exteriors I have,
therefore, at present taken no notice, as it will be more convenient to
embrace this subject in one general view of the systems of coloring of
the Venetian palaces, when we arrive at the period of its richest
developement.[98] The details, also, of most interest, respecting the
forms and transitional decoration of their capitals, will be given in
the final Appendix to the next volume, where we shall be able to include
in our inquiry the whole extent of the Gothic period; and it remains for
us, therefore, at present, only to review the history, fix the date, and
note the most important particulars in the structure of the building
which at once consummates and embodies the entire system of the Gothic
architecture of Venice,--the DUCAL PALACE.


  [75] 38 ft. 2 in., without its cornice, which is 10 inches deep, and
    sustains pinnacles of stone 7 feet high. I was enabled to get the
    measures by a scaffolding erected in 1851 to repair the front.

  [76] I believe the necessary upper joint is vertical, through the
    uppermost lobe of the quatrefoil, as in the figure; but I have lost
    my memorandum of this joint.

  [77] "Dice, che non lauda per alcun modo di metter questo Serenissimo
    Dominio in tanto pericolo d' habitar un palazzo fabricato in
    aria."--_Pareri di XV. Architetti, con illustrazioni dell' Abbate
    Giuseppe Cadorin_ (Venice, 1838), p. 104.

  [78] "Il muro della sala è più grosso delle colonne sott' esso piedi
    uno e onze tre, et posto in modo che onze sei sta come in aere sopra
    la piazza, et onze nove dentro."--_Pareri di XV. Architetti_, p. 47.

  [79] Compare "Seven Lamps," chap. iii. § 7.

  [80] Pareri, above quoted, p. 21.

  [81] It is a curious proof how completely, even so early as the
    beginning of the sixteenth century, the Venetians had lost the habit
    of _reading_ the religious art of their ancient churches, that
    Sanuto, describing this injury, says, that "four of the _Kings_ in
    marble fell from their pinnacles above the front, at St. Mark's
    church;" and presently afterwards corrects his mistake, and
    apologises for it thus: "These were four saints, St. Constantine,
    St. Demetrius, St. George, and St. Theodore, all Greek saints. _They
    look like Kings_." Observe the perfect, because unintentional,
    praise given to the old sculptor.

    I quote the passage from the translation of these precious diaries
    of Sanuto, by my friend Mr. Rawdon Brown, a translation which I hope
    will some day become a standard book in English libraries.

  [82] I am not speaking here of iron balconies. See below, § XXII.

  [83] A Some details respecting the mechanical structure of the
    Venetian balcony are given in the final Appendix.

  [84] I found it convenient in my own memoranda to express them
    simply as fourths, seconds, &c. But "order" is an excellent word for
    any known group of forms, whether of windows, capitals, bases,
    mouldings, or any other architectural feature, provided always that
    it be not understood in any wise to imply preëminence or isolation
    in these groups. Thus I may rationally speak of the six orders of
    Venetian windows, provided I am ready to allow a French architect to
    speak of the six or seven, or eight, or seventy or eighty, orders of
    Norman windows, if so many are distinguishable; and so also we may
    rationally speak, for the sake of intelligibility, of the five
    orders of Greek pillars, provided only we understand that there may
    be five millions of orders as good or better, of pillars _not_

  [85] Or in their own curves; as, on a small scale, in the balustrade
    fig. 6, Plate XIII., above.

  [86] For all details of this kind, the reader is referred to the
    final Appendix in Vol. III.

  [87] Two threads of white marble, each about an inch wide, inlaid in
    the dark grey pavement, indicate the road to the Rialto from the
    farthest extremity of the north quarter of Venice. The peasant or
    traveller, lost in the intricacy of the pathway in this portion of
    the city, cannot fail, after a few experimental traverses, to cross
    these white lines, which thenceforward he has nothing to do but to
    follow, though their capricious sinuosities will try his patience
    not a little.

  [88] An account of the conspiracy of Bajamonte may be found in
    almost any Venetian history; the reader may consult Mutinelli,
    Annali Urbani, lib. iii.

  [89] See account of series of capitals in final Appendix.

  [90] If the traveller desire to find them (and they are worth
    seeking), let him row from the Fondamenta S. Biagio down the Rio
    della Tana, and look, on his right, for a low house with windows in
    it like those in the woodcut No. XXXI. above, p. 256. Let him go in
    at the door of the portico in the middle of this house, and he will
    find himself in a small alley, with the windows in question on each
    side of him.

  [91] The bitterness of feeling with which the Venetians must have
    remembered this, was probably the cause of their magnificent heroism
    in the final siege of the city under Dandolo, and, partly, of the
    excesses which disgraced their victory. The conduct of the allied
    army of the Crusaders on this occasion cannot, however, be brought
    in evidence of general barbarism in the thirteenth century: first,
    because the masses of the crusading armies were in great part
    composed of the refuse of the nations of Europe; and secondly,
    because such a mode of argument might lead us to inconvenient
    conclusions respecting ourselves, so long as the horses of the
    Austrian cavalry are stabled in the cloister of the convent which
    contains the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci. See Appendix 3, Vol.
    III.: "Austrian Government in Italy."

  [92] It is generally better to read ten lines of any poet in the
    original language, however painfully, than ten cantos of a
    translation. But an exception may be made in favor of Cary's Dante.
    If no poet ever was liable to lose more in translation, none was
    ever so carefully translated; and I hardly know whether most to
    admire the rigid fidelity, or the sweet and solemn harmony, of
    Cary's verse. There is hardly a fault in the fragment quoted above,
    except the word "lectured," for Dante's beautiful "favoleggiava;"
    and even in this case, joining the first words of the following
    line, the translation is strictly literal. It is true that the
    conciseness and the rivulet-like melody of Dante must continually be
    lost; but if I could only read English, and had to choose, for a
    library narrowed by poverty, between Cary's Dante and our own
    original Milton, I should choose Cary without an instant's pause.

  [93] See final Appendix, Vol. III., under head "Capitals."

  [94] This Plate is not from a drawing of mine. It has been engraved
    by Mr. Armytage, with great skill, from two daguerreotypes.

  [95] Vide final Appendix, under head "Archivolt."

  [96] "On Thursday, the 20th, the front walls of two of the new
    houses now building in Victoria Street, Westminster, fell to the
    ground.... The roof was on, _and a massive compo cornice_ was put up
    at top, as well as dressings to the upper windows. The roof is
    formed by girders and 4½-brick arches in cement, covered with
    asphalt to form a flat. The failure is attributed _to the quantity
    of rain which has fallen_. Others suppose that some of the girders
    were defective, and gave way, carrying the walls with
    them."--_Builder_, for January 29th, 1853. The rest of this volume
    might be filled with such notices, if we sought for them.

  [97] "Ysame," collected together.

  [98] Vol. III. Chap. I. I have had considerable difficulty in the
    arrangement of these volumes, so as to get the points bearing upon
    each other grouped in consecutive and intelligible order.



§ I. It was stated in the commencement of the preceding chapter that the
Gothic art of Venice was separated by the building of the Ducal Palace
into two distinct periods; and that in all the domestic edifices which
were raised for half a century after its completion, their
characteristic and chiefly effective portions were more or less directly
copied from it. The fact is, that the Ducal Palace was the great work of
Venice at this period, itself the principal effort of her imagination,
employing her best architects in its masonry, and her best painters in
its decoration, for a long series of years; and we must receive it as a
remarkable testimony to the influence which it possessed over the minds
of those who saw it in its progress, that, while in the other cities of
Italy every palace and church was rising in some original and daily more
daring form, the majesty of this single building was able to give pause
to the Gothic imagination in its full career; stayed the restlessness of
innovation in an instant, and forbade the powers which had created it
thenceforth to exert themselves in new directions, or endeavor to summon
an image more attractive.

§ II. The reader will hardly believe that while the architectural
invention of the Venetians was thus lost, Narcissus-like, in
self-contemplation, the various accounts of the progress of the building
thus admired and beloved are so confused as frequently to leave it
doubtful to what portion of the palace they refer; and that there is
actually, at the time being, a dispute between the best Venetian
antiquaries, whether the main façade of the palace be of the fourteenth
or fifteenth century. The determination of this question is of course
necessary before we proceed to draw any conclusions from the style of
the work; and it cannot be determined without a careful review of the
entire history of the palace, and of all the documents relating to it. I
trust that this review may not be found tedious,--assuredly it will not
be fruitless,--bringing many facts before us, singularly illustrative of
the Venetian character.

§ III. Before, however, the reader can enter upon any inquiry into the
history of this building, it is necessary that he should be thoroughly
familiar with the arrangement and names of its principal parts, as it at
present stands; otherwise he cannot comprehend so much as a single
sentence of any of the documents referring to it. I must do what I can,
by the help of a rough plan and bird's-eye view, to give him the
necessary topographical knowledge:

Fig. XXXVI. opposite is a rude ground plan of the buildings round St.
Mark's Place; and the following references will clearly explain their
relative positions:

  A. St. Mark's Place.
  B. Piazzetta.
  P. V. Procuratie Vecchie.
  P. N. (opposite) Procuratie Nuove.
  P. L. Libreria Vecchia.
  I. Piazzetta de' Leoni.
  T. Tower of St. Mark.
  F F. Great Façade of St. Mark's Church.
  M. St. Mark's. (It is so united with the Ducal Palace, that the
       separation cannot be indicated in the plan, unless all the walls
       had been marked, which would have confused the whole.)
  D D D. Ducal Palace.                          g s. Giant's stair.
  C. Court of Ducal Palace.                     J. Judgment angle.
  c. Porta della Carta.                         a. Fig-tree angle.
  p p. Ponte della Paglia (Bridge of Straw).
  S. Ponte de' Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs).
  R R. Riva de' Schiavoni.

The reader will observe that the Ducal Palace is arranged somewhat in
the form of a hollow square, of which one side faces the Piazzetta, B,
and another the quay called the Riva de' Schiavoni, R R; the third is on
the dark canal called the "Rio del Palazzo," and the fourth joins the
Church of St. Mark.

[Illustration: Fig. XXXVI.]

[Illustration: Fig. XXXVII.]

Of this fourth side, therefore, nothing can be seen. Of the other three
sides we shall have to speak constantly; and they will be respectively
called, that towards the Piazzetta, the "Piazzetta Façade;" that towards
the Riva de' Schiavoni, the "Sea Façade;" and that towards the Rio del
Palazzo, the "Rio Façade." This Rio, or canal, is usually looked upon by
the traveller with great respect, or even horror, because it passes
under the Bridge of Sighs. It is, however, one of the principal
thoroughfares of the city; and the bridge and its canal together occupy,
in the mind of a Venetian, very much the position of Fleet Street and
Temple Bar in that of a Londoner,--at least, at the time when Temple Bar
was occasionally decorated with human heads. The two buildings closely
resemble each other in form.

§ IV. We must now proceed to obtain some rough idea of the appearance
and distribution of the palace itself; but its arrangement will be
better understood by supposing ourselves raised some hundred and fifty
feet above the point in the lagoon in front of it, so as to get a
general view of the Sea Façade and Rio Façade (the latter in very steep
perspective), and to look down into its interior court. Fig. XXXVII.
roughly represents such a view, omitting all details on the roofs, in
order to avoid confusion. In this drawing we have merely to notice that,
of the two bridges seen on the right, the uppermost, above the black
canal, is the Bridge of Sighs; the lower one is the Ponte della Paglia,
the regular thoroughfare from quay to quay, and, I believe, called the
Bridge of Straw, because the boats which brought straw from the mainland
used to sell it at this place. The corner of the palace, rising above
this bridge, and formed by the meeting of the Sea Façade and Rio Façade,
will always be called the Vine angle, because it is decorated by a
sculpture of the drunkenness of Noah. The angle opposite will be called
the Fig-tree angle, because it is decorated by a sculpture of the Fall
of Man. The long and narrow range of building, of which the roof is seen
in perspective behind this angle, is the part of the palace fronting the
Piazzetta; and the angle under the pinnacle most to the left of the two
which terminate it will be called, for a reason presently to be stated,
the Judgment angle. Within the square formed by the building is seen its
interior court (with one of its wells), terminated by small and
fantastic buildings of the Renaissance period, which face the Giant's
Stair, of which the extremity is seen sloping down on the left.

§ V. The great façade which fronts the spectator looks southward. Hence
the two traceried windows lower than the rest, and to the right of the
spectator, may be conveniently distinguished as the "Eastern Windows."
There are two others like them, filled with tracery, and at the same
level, which look upon the narrow canal between the Ponte della Paglia
and the Bridge of Sighs: these we may conveniently call the "Canal
Windows." The reader will observe a vertical line in this dark side of
the palace, separating its nearer and plainer wall from a long
four-storied range of rich architecture. This more distant range is
entirely Renaissance: its extremity is not indicated, because I have no
accurate sketch of the small buildings and bridges beyond it, and we
shall have nothing whatever to do with this part of the palace in our
present inquiry. The nearer and undecorated wall is part of the older
palace, though much defaced by modern opening of common windows,
refittings of the brickwork, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. XXXVIII.]

§ VI. It will be observed that the façade is composed of a smooth mass
of wall, sustained on two tiers of pillars, one above the other. The
manner in which these support the whole fabric will be understood at
once by the rough section, fig. XXXVIII., which is supposed to be taken
right through the palace to the interior court, from near the middle of
the Sea Façade. Here _a_ and _d_ are the rows of shafts, both in the
inner court and on the Façade, which carry the main walls; _b_, _c_ are
solid walls variously strengthened with pilasters. A, B, C are the three
stories of the interior of the palace.

The reader sees that it is impossible for any plan to be more simple,
and that if the inner floors and walls of the stories A, B were
removed, there could be left merely the form of a basilica,--two high
walls, carried on ranges of shafts, and roofed by a low gable.

The stories A, B are entirely modernized, and divided into confused
ranges of small apartments, among which what vestiges remain of ancient
masonry are entirely undecipherable, except by investigations such as I
have had neither the time nor, as in most cases they would involve the
removal of modern plastering, the opportunity, to make. With the
subdivisions of this story, therefore, I shall not trouble the reader;
but those of the great upper story, C, are highly important.

§ VII. In the bird's-eye view above, fig. XXXVII., it will be noticed
that the two windows on the right are lower than the other four of the
façade. In this arrangement there is one of the most remarkable
instances I know of the daring sacrifice of symmetry to convenience,
which was noticed in Chap. VII. as one of the chief noblenesses of the
Gothic schools.

The part of the palace in which the two lower windows occur, we shall
find, was first built, and arranged in four stories in order to obtain
the necessary number of apartments. Owing to circumstances, of which we
shall presently give an account, it became necessary, in the beginning
of the fourteenth century, to provide another large and magnificent
chamber for the meeting of the senate. That chamber was added at the
side of the older building; but, as only one room was wanted, there was
no need to divide the added portion into two stories. The entire height
was given to the single chamber, being indeed not too great for just
harmony with its enormous length and breadth. And then came the question
how to place the windows, whether on a line with the two others, or
above them.

The ceiling of the new room was to be adorned by the paintings of the
best masters in Venice, and it became of great importance to raise the
light near that gorgeous roof, as well as to keep the tone of
illumination in the Council Chamber serene; and therefore to introduce
light rather in simple masses than in many broken streams. A modern
architect, terrified at the idea of violating external symmetry, would
have sacrificed both the pictures and the peace of the council. He would
have placed the larger windows at the same level with the other two, and
have introduced above them smaller windows, like those of the upper
story in the older building, as if that upper story had been continued
along the façade. But the old Venetian thought of the honor of the
paintings, and the comfort of the senate, before his own reputation. He
unhesitatingly raised the large windows to their proper position with
reference to the interior of the chamber, and suffered the external
appearance to take care of itself. And I believe the whole pile rather
gains than loses in effect by the variation thus obtained in the spaces
of wall above and below the windows.

§ VIII. On the party wall, between the second and third windows, which
faces the eastern extremity of the Great Council Chamber, is painted the
Paradise of Tintoret; and this wall will therefore be hereafter called
the "Wall of the Paradise."

In nearly the centre of the Sea Façade, and between the first and second
windows of the Great Council Chamber, is a large window to the ground,
opening on a balcony, which is one of the chief ornaments of the palace,
and will be called in future the "Sea Balcony."

The façade which looks on the Piazetta is very nearly like this to the
Sea, but the greater part of it was built in the fifteenth century, when
people had become studious of their symmetries. Its side windows are all
on the same level. Two light the west end of the Great Council Chamber,
one lights a small room anciently called the Quarantia Civil Nuova; the
other three, and the central one, with a balcony like that to the Sea,
light another large chamber, called Sala del Scrutinio, or "Hall of
Enquiry," which extends to the extremity of the palace above the Porta
della Carta.

§ IX. The reader is now well enough acquainted with the topography of
the existing building, to be able to follow the accounts of its history.

We have seen above, that there were three principal styles of Venetian
architecture; Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance.

The Ducal Palace, which was the great work of Venice, was built
successively in the three styles. There was a Byzantine Ducal Palace, a
Gothic Ducal Palace, and a Renaissance Ducal Palace. The second
superseded the first totally; a few stones of it (if indeed so much) are
all that is left. But the third superseded the second in part only, and
the existing building is formed by the union of the two.

We shall review the history of each in succession.[99]


In the year of the death of Charlemagne, 813,[100] the Venetians
determined to make the island of Rialto the seat of the government and
capital of their state. Their Doge, Angelo or Agnello Participazio,
instantly took vigorous means for the enlargement of the small group of
buildings which were to be the nucleus of the future Venice. He
appointed persons to superintend the raising of the banks of sand, so as
to form more secure foundations, and to build wooden bridges over the
canals. For the offices of religion, he built the Church of St. Mark;
and on, or near, the spot where the Ducal Palace now stands, he built a
palace for the administration of the government.[101]

The history of the Ducal Palace therefore begins with the birth of
Venice, and to what remains of it, at this day, is entrusted the last
representation of her power.

§ X. Of the exact position and form of this palace of Participazio
little is ascertained. Sansovino says that it was "built near the Ponte
della Paglia, and answeringly on the Grand Canal,"[102] towards San
Giorgio; that is to say, in the place now occupied by the Sea Façade;
but this was merely the popular report of his day. We know, however,
positively, that it was somewhere upon the site of the existing palace;
and that it had an important front towards the Piazzetta, with which, as
we shall see hereafter, the present palace at one period was
incorporated. We know, also, that it was a pile of some magnificence,
from the account given by Sagornino of the visit paid by the Emperor
Otho the Great, to the Doge Pietro Orseolo II. The chronicler says that
the Emperor "beheld carefully all the beauty of the palace;"[103] and
the Venetian historians express pride in the building's being worthy of
an emperor's examination. This was after the palace had been much
injured by fire in the revolt against Candiano IV.,[104] and just
repaired, and richly adorned by Orseolo himself, who is spoken of by
Sagornino as having also "adorned the chapel of the Ducal Palace" (St.
Mark's) with ornaments of marble and gold.[105] There can be no doubt
whatever that the palace at this period resembled and impressed the
other Byzantine edifices of the city, such as the Fondaco de Turchi,
&c., whose remains have been already described; and that, like them, it
was covered with sculpture, and richly adorned with gold and color.

§ XI. In the year 1106, it was for the second time injured by fire,[106]
but repaired before 1116, when it received another emperor, Henry V. (of
Germany), and was again honored by imperial praise.[107] Between 1173
and the close of the century, it seems to have been again repaired and
much enlarged by the Doge Sebastian Ziani. Sansovino says that this Doge
not only repaired it, but "enlarged it in every direction;"[108] and,
after this enlargement, the palace seems to have remained untouched for
a hundred years, until, in the commencement of the fourteenth century,
the works of the Gothic Palace were begun. As, therefore, the old
Byzantine building was, at the time when those works first interfered
with it, in the form given to it by Ziani, I shall hereafter always
speak of it as the _Ziani_ Palace; and this the rather, because the only
chronicler whose words are perfectly clear respecting the existence of
part of this palace so late as the year 1422, speaks of it as built by
Ziani. The old "palace, of which half remains to this day, was built, as
we now see it, by Sebastian Ziani."[109]

So far, then, of the Byzantine Palace.

§ XII. 2nd. The GOTHIC PALACE. The reader, doubtless, recollects that
the important change in the Venetian government which gave stability to
the aristocratic power took place about the year 1297,[110] under the
Doge Pietro Gradenigo, a man thus characterized by Sansovino:--"A prompt
and prudent man, of unconquerable determination and great eloquence, who
laid, so to speak, the foundations of the eternity of this republic, by
the admirable regulations which he introduced into the government."

We may now, with some reason, doubt of their admirableness; but their
importance, and the vigorous will and intellect of the Doge, are not to
be disputed. Venice was in the zenith of her strength, and the heroism
of her citizens was displaying itself in every quarter of the
world.[111] The acquiescence in the secure establishment of the
aristocratic power was an expression, by the people, of respect for the
families which had been chiefly instrumental in raising the commonwealth
to such a height of prosperity.

The Serrar del Consiglio fixed the numbers of the Senate within certain
limits, and it conferred upon them a dignity greater than they had ever
before possessed. It was natural that the alteration in the character of
the assembly should be attended by some change in the size, arrangement,
or decoration of the chamber in which they sat.

We accordingly find it recorded by Sansovino, that "in 1301 another
saloon was begun on the Rio del Palazzo, _under the Doge Gradenigo_, and
finished in 1309, _in which year the Grand Council first sat in
it_."[112] In the first year, therefore, of the fourteenth century, the
Gothic Ducal Palace of Venice was begun; and as the Byzantine Palace
was, in its foundation, coeval with that of the state, so the Gothic
Palace was, in its foundation, coeval with that of the aristocratic
power. Considered as the principal representation of the Venetian school
of architecture, the Ducal Palace is the Parthenon of Venice, and
Gradenigo its Pericles.

§ XIII. Sansovino, with a caution very frequent among Venetian
historians, when alluding to events connected with the Serrar del
Consiglio, does not specially mention the cause for the requirement of
the new chamber; but the Sivos Chronicle is a little more distinct in
expression. "In 1301, it was determined to build a great saloon _for the
assembling_ of the Great Council, and the room was built which is _now_
called the Sala del Scrutinio."[113] _Now_, that is to say, at the time
when the Sivos Chronicle was written; the room has long ago been
destroyed, and its name given to another chamber on the opposite side of
the palace: but I wish the reader to remember the date 1301, as marking
the commencement of a great architectural epoch, in which took place the
first appliance of the energy of the aristocratic power, and of the
Gothic style, to the works of the Ducal Palace. The operations then
begun were continued, with hardly an interruption, during the whole
period of the prosperity of Venice. We shall see the new buildings
consume, and take the place of, the Ziani Palace, piece by piece: and
when the Ziani Palace was destroyed, they fed upon themselves; being
continued round the square, until, in the sixteenth century, they
reached the point where they had been begun in the fourteenth, and
pursued the track they had then followed some distance beyond the
junction; destroying or hiding their own commencement, as the serpent,
which is the type of eternity, conceals its tail in its jaws.

§ XIV. We cannot, therefore, _see_ the extremity, wherein lay the sting
and force of the whole creature,--the chamber, namely, built by the Doge
Gradenigo; but the reader must keep that commencement and the date of it
carefully in his mind. The body of the Palace Serpent will soon become
visible to us.

The Gradenigo Chamber was somewhere on the Rio Façade, behind the
present position of the Bridge of Sighs; i.e. about the point marked on
the roof by the dotted lines in the woodcut; it is not known whether low
or high, but probably on a first story. The great façade of the Ziani
Palace being, as above mentioned, on the Piazzetta, this chamber was as
far back and out of the way as possible; secrecy and security being
obviously the points first considered.

§ XV. But the newly constituted Senate had need of other additions to
the ancient palace besides the Council Chamber. A short, but most
significant, sentence is added to Sansovino's account of the
construction of that room. "There were, _near_ _it_," he says, "the
Cancellaria, and the _Gheba_ or _Gabbia_, afterwards called the Little

Gabbia means a "cage;" and there can be no question that certain
apartments were at this time added at the top of the palace and on the
Rio Façade, which were to be used as prisons. Whether any portion of the
old Torresella still remains is a doubtful question; but the apartments
at the top of the palace, in its fourth story, were still used for
prisons as late as the beginning of the seventeenth century.[115] I wish
the reader especially to notice that a separate tower or range of
apartments was built for this purpose, in order to clear the government
of the accusations so constantly made against them, by ignorant or
partial historians, of wanton cruelty to prisoners. The stories commonly
told respecting the "piombi" of the Ducal Palace are utterly false.
Instead of being, as usually reported, small furnaces under the leads of
the palace, they were comfortable rooms, with good flat roofs of larch,
and carefully ventilated.[116] The new chamber, then, and the prisons,
being built, the Great Council first sat in their retired chamber on the
Rio in the year 1309.

§ XVI. Now, observe the significant progress of events. They had no
sooner thus established themselves in power than they were disturbed by
the conspiracy of the Tiepolos, in the year 1310. In consequence of that
conspiracy the Council of Ten was created, still under the Doge
Gradenigo; who, having finished his work and left the aristocracy of
Venice armed with this terrible power, died in the year 1312, some say
by poison. He was succeeded by the Doge Marino Giorgio, who reigned
only one year; and then followed the prosperous government of John
Soranzo. There is no mention of any additions to the Ducal Palace during
his reign, but he was succeeded by that Francesco Dandolo, the
sculptures on whose tomb, still existing in the cloisters of the Salute,
may be compared by any traveller with those of the Ducal Palace. Of him
it is recorded in the Savina Chronicle: "This Doge also had the great
gate built which is at the entry of the palace, above which is his
statue kneeling, with the gonfalon in hand, before the feet of the Lion
of St. Mark's."[117]

§ XVII. It appears, then, that after the Senate had completed their
Council Chamber and the prisons, they required a nobler door than that
of the old Ziani Palace for their Magnificences to enter by. This door
is twice spoken of in the government accounts of expenses, which are
fortunately preserved,[118] in the following terms:--

"1335, June 1. We, Andrew Dandolo and Mark Loredano, procurators of
   St. Mark's, have paid to Martin the stone-cutter and his
   associates[119] ... for a stone of which the lion is made which is
   put over the gate of the palace."

"1344, November 4. We have paid thirty-five golden ducats for making
   gold leaf, to gild the lion which is over the door of the palace

The position of this door is disputed, and is of no consequence to the
reader, the door itself having long ago disappeared, and been replaced
by the Porta della Carta.

§ XVIII. But before it was finished, occasion had been discovered for
farther improvements. The Senate found their new Council Chamber
inconveniently small, and, about thirty years after its completion,
began to consider where a larger and more magnificent one might be
built. The government was now thoroughly established, and it was
probably felt that there was some meanness in the retired position, as
well as insufficiency in the size, of the Council Chamber on the Rio.
The first definite account which I find of their proceedings, under
these circumstances, is in the Caroldo Chronicle:[120]

"1340. On the 28th of December, in the preceding year, Master Marco
Erizzo, Nicolo Soranzo, and Thomas Gradenigo, were chosen to examine
where a new saloon might be built in order to assemble therein the
Greater Council.... On the 3rd of June, 1341, the Great Council elected
two procurators of the work of this saloon, with a salary of eighty
ducats a year."

It appears from the entry still preserved in the Archivio, and quoted by
Cadorin, that it was on the 28th of December, 1340, that the
commissioners appointed to decide on this important matter gave in their
report to the Grand Council, and that the decree passed thereupon for
the commencement of a new Council Chamber on the Grand Canal.[121]

_The room then begun is the one now in existence_, and its building
involved the building of all that is best and most beautiful in the
present Ducal Palace, the rich arcades of the lower stories being all
prepared for sustaining this Sala del Gran Consiglio.

§ XIX. In saying that it is the same now in existence, I do not mean
that it has undergone no alterations; as we shall see hereafter, it has
been refitted again and again, and some portions of its walls rebuilt;
but in the place and form in which it first stood, it still stands; and
by a glance at the position which its windows occupy, as shown in fig.
XXXVII. above, the reader will see at once that whatever can be known
respecting the design of the Sea Façade, must be gleaned out of the
entries which refer to the building of this Great Council Chamber.

Cadorin quotes two of great importance, to which we shall return in due
time, made during the progress of the work in 1342 and 1344; then one of
1349, resolving that the works at the Ducal Palace, which had been
discontinued during the plague, should be resumed; and finally one in
1362, which speaks of the Great Council Chamber as having been neglected
and suffered to fall into "great desolation," and resolves that it shall
be forthwith completed.[122]

The interruption had not been caused by the plague only, but by the
conspiracy of Faliero, and the violent death of the master builder.[123]
The work was resumed in 1362, and completed within the next three years,
at least so far as that Guariento was enabled to paint his Paradise on
the walls;[124] so that the building must, at any rate, have been roofed
by this time. Its decorations and fittings, however, were long in
completion; the paintings on the roof being only executed in 1400.[125]
They represented the heavens covered with stars,[126] this being, says
Sansovino, the bearings of the Doge Steno. Almost all ceilings and
vaults were at this time in Venice covered with stars, without any
reference to armorial bearings; but Steno claims, under his noble title
of Stellifer, an important share in completing the chamber, in an
inscription upon two square tablets, now inlaid in the walls on each
side of the great window towards the sea:


And in fact it is to this Doge that we owe the beautiful balcony of that
window, though the work above it is partly of more recent date; and I
think the tablets bearing this important inscription have been taken out
and reinserted in the newer masonry. The labor of these final
decorations occupied a total period of sixty years. The Grand Council
sat in the finished chamber for the first time in 1423. In that year the
Gothic Ducal Palace of Venice was completed. It had taken, to build it,
the energies of the entire period which I have above described as the
central one of her life.

§ XX. 3rd. The RENAISSANCE PALACE. I must go back a step or two, in
order to be certain that the reader understands clearly the state of the
palace in 1423. The works of addition or renovation had now been
proceeding, at intervals, during a space of a hundred and twenty-three
years. Three generations at least had been accustomed to witness the
gradual advancement of the form of the Ducal Palace into more stately
symmetry, and to contrast the works of sculpture and painting with which
it was decorated,--full of the life, knowledge, and hope of the
fourteenth century,--with the rude Byzantine chiselling of the palace of
the Doge Ziani. The magnificent fabric just completed, of which the new
Council Chamber was the nucleus, was now habitually known in Venice as
the "Palazzo Nuovo;" and the old Byzantine edifice, now ruinous, and
more manifest in its decay by its contrast with the goodly stones of the
building which had been raised at its side, was of course known as the
"Palazzo Vecchio."[127] That fabric, however, still occupied the
principal position in Venice. The new Council Chamber had been erected
by the side of it towards the Sea; but there was not then the wide quay
in front, the Riva dei Schiavoni, which now renders the Sea Façade as
important as that to the Piazzetta. There was only a narrow walk
between the pillars and the water; and the _old_ palace of Ziani still
faced the Piazzetta, and interrupted, by its decrepitude, the
magnificence of the square where the nobles daily met. Every increase of
the beauty of the new palace rendered the discrepancy between it and the
companion building more painful; and then began to arise in the minds of
all men a vague idea of the necessity of destroying the old palace, and
completing the front of the Piazzetta with the same splendor as the Sea
Façade. But no such sweeping measure of renovation had been contemplated
by the Senate when they first formed the plan of their new Council
Chamber. First a single additional room, then a gateway, then a larger
room; but all considered merely as necessary additions to the palace,
not as involving the entire reconstruction of the ancient edifice. The
exhaustion of the treasury, and the shadows upon the political horizon,
rendered it more than imprudent to incur the vast additional expense
which such a project involved; and the Senate, fearful of itself, and
desirous to guard against the weakness of its own enthusiasm, passed a
decree, like the effort of a man fearful of some strong temptation to
keep his thoughts averted from the point of danger. It was a decree, not
merely that the old palace should not be rebuilt, but that no one should
_propose_ rebuilding it. The feeling of the desirableness of doing so
was too strong to permit fair discussion, and the Senate knew that to
bring forward such a motion was to carry it.

§ XXI. The decree, thus passed in order to guard against their own
weakness, forbade any one to speak of rebuilding the old palace under
the penalty of a thousand ducats. But they had rated their own
enthusiasm too low: there was a man among them whom the loss of a
thousand ducats could not deter from proposing what he believed to be
for the good of the state.

Some excuse was given him for bringing forward the motion, by a fire
which occurred in 1419, and which injured both the church of St. Mark's,
and part of the old palace fronting the Piazzetta. What followed, I
shall relate in the words of Sanuto.[128]

§ XXII. "Therefore they set themselves with all diligence and care to
repair and adorn sumptuously, first God's house; but in the Prince's
house things went on more slowly, _for it did not please the Doge[129]
to restore it in the form in which it was before_; and they could not
rebuild it altogether in a better manner, so great was the parsimony of
these old fathers; because it was forbidden by laws, which condemned in
a penalty of a thousand ducats any one who should propose to throw down
the _old_ palace, and to rebuild it more richly and with greater
expense. But the Doge, who was magnanimous, and who desired above all
things what was honorable to the city, had the thousand ducats carried
into the Senate Chamber, and then proposed that the palace should be
rebuilt; saying: that, 'since the late fire had ruined in great part the
Ducal habitation (not only his own private palace, but all the places
used for public business) this occasion was to be taken for an
admonishment sent from God, that they ought to rebuild the palace more
nobly, and in a way more befitting the greatness to which, by God's
grace, their dominions had reached; and that his motive in proposing
this was neither ambition, nor selfish interest: that, as for ambition,
they might have seen in the whole course of his life, through so many
years, that he had never done anything for ambition, either in the city,
or in foreign business; but in all his actions had kept justice first in
his thoughts, and then the advantage of the state, and the honor of the
Venetian name: and that, as far as regarded his private interest, if it
had not been for this accident of the fire, he would never have thought
of changing anything in the palace into either a more sumptuous or a
more honorable form; and that during the many years in which he had
lived in it, he had never endeavored to make any change, but had always
been content with it, as his predecessors had left it; and that he knew
well that, if they took in hand to build it as he exhorted and besought
them, being now very old, and broken down with many toils, God would
call him to another life before the walls were raised a pace from the
ground. And that therefore they might perceive that he did not advise
them to raise this building for his own convenience, but only for the
honor of the city and its Dukedom; and that the good of it would never
be felt by him, but by his successors.' Then he said, that 'in order, as
he had always done, to observe the laws,... he had brought with him the
thousand ducats which had been appointed as the penalty for proposing
such a measure, so that he might prove openly to all men that it was not
his own advantage that he sought, but the dignity of the state.'" There
was no one (Sanuto goes on to tell us) who ventured, or desired, to
oppose the wishes of the Doge; and the thousand ducats were unanimously
devoted to the expenses of the work. "And they set themselves with much
diligence to the work; and the palace was begun in the form and manner
in which it is at present seen; but, as Mocenigo had prophesied, not
long after, he ended his life, and not only did not see the work brought
to a close, but hardly even begun."

§ XXIII. There are one or two expressions in the above extracts which,
if they stood alone, might lead the reader to suppose that the whole
palace had been thrown down and rebuilt. We must however remember, that,
at this time, the new Council Chamber, which had been one hundred years
in building, was actually unfinished, the council had not yet sat in it;
and it was just as likely that the Doge should then propose to destroy
and rebuild it, as in this year, 1853, it is that any one should propose
in our House of Commons to throw down the new Houses of Parliament,
under the title of the "old palace," and rebuild _them_.

§ XXIV. The manner in which Sanuto expresses himself will at once be
seen to be perfectly natural, when it is remembered that although we now
speak of the whole building as the "Ducal Palace," it consisted, in the
minds of the old Venetians, of four distinct buildings. There were in it
the palace, the state prisons, the senate-house, and the offices of
public business; in other words, it was Buckingham Palace, the Tower of
olden days, the Houses of Parliament, and Downing Street, all in one;
and any of these four portions might be spoken of, without involving an
allusion to any other. "Il Palazzo" was the Ducal residence, which, with
most of the public offices, Mocenigo _did_ propose to pull down and
rebuild, and which was actually pulled down and rebuilt. But the new
Council Chamber, of which the whole façade to the Sea consisted, never
entered into either his or Sanuto's mind for an instant, as necessarily
connected with the Ducal residence.

I said that the new Council Chamber, at the time when Mocenigo brought
forward his measure, had never yet been used. It was in the year
1422[130] that the decree passed to rebuild the palace: Mocenigo died in
the following year,[131] and Francesco Foscari was elected in his room.
The Great Council Chamber was used for the first time on the day when
Foscari entered the Senate as Doge,--the 3rd of April, 1423, according
to the Caroldo Chronicle;[132] the 23rd, which is probably correct, by
an anonymous MS., No. 60, in the Correr Museum;[133]--and, the following
year, on the 27th of March, the first hammer was lifted up against the
old palace of Ziani.[134]

§ XXV. That hammer stroke was the first act of the period properly
called the "Renaissance." It was the knell of the architecture of
Venice,--and of Venice herself.

The central epoch of her life was past; the decay had already begun: I
dated its commencement above (Ch. I. Vol. 1.) from the death of
Mocenigo. A year had not yet elapsed since that great Doge had been
called to his account: his patriotism, always sincere, had been in this
instance mistaken; in his zeal for the honor of future Venice, he had
forgotten what was due to the Venice of long ago. A thousand palaces
might be built upon her burdened islands, but none of them could take
the place, or recall the memory, of that which was first built upon her
unfrequented shore. It fell; and, as if it had been the talisman of her
fortunes, the city never flourished again.

§ XXVI. I have no intention of following out, in their intricate
details, the operations which were begun under Foscari and continued
under succeeding Doges till the palace assumed its present form, for I
am not in this work concerned, except by occasional reference, with the
architecture of the fifteenth century: but the main facts are the
following. The palace of Ziani was destroyed; the existing façade to the
Piazzetta built, so as both to continue and to resemble, in most
particulars, the work of the Great Council Chamber. It was carried back
from the Sea as far as the Judgment angle; beyond which is the Porta
della Carta, begun in 1439, and finished in two years, under the Doge
Foscari;[135] the interior buildings connected with it were added by the
Doge Christopher Moro (the Othello of Shakspeare)[136] in 1462.

§ XXVII. By reference to the figure the reader will see that we have now
gone the round of the palace, and that the new work of 1462 was close
upon the first piece of the Gothic palace, the _new_ Council Chamber of
1301. Some remnants of the Ziani Palace were perhaps still left between
the two extremities of the Gothic Palace; or, as is more probable, the
last stones of it may have been swept away after the fire of 1419, and
replaced by new apartments for the Doge. But whatever buildings, old or
new, stood on this spot at the time of the completion of the Porta della
Carta were destroyed by another great fire in 1479, together with so
much of the palace on the Rio that, though the saloon of Gradenigo, then
known as the Sala de' Pregadi, was not destroyed, it became necessary to
reconstruct the entire façades of the portion of the palace behind the
Bridge of Sighs, both towards the court and canal. This work was
entrusted to the best Renaissance architects of the close of the
fifteenth and opening of the sixteenth centuries; Antonio Ricci
executing the Giant's staircase, and on his absconding with a large sum
of the public money, Pietro Lombardo taking his place. The whole work
must have been completed towards the middle of the sixteenth century.
The architects of the palace, advancing round the square and led by
fire, had more than reached the point from which they had set out; and
the work of 1560 was joined to the work of 1301-1340, at the point
marked by the conspicuous vertical line in Figure XXXVII. on the Rio

§ XXVIII. But the palace was not long permitted to remain in this
finished form. Another terrific fire, commonly called the great fire,
burst out in 1574, and destroyed the inner fittings and all the precious
pictures of the Great Council Chamber, and of all the upper rooms on the
Sea Façade, and most of those on the Rio Façade, leaving the building a
mere shell, shaken and blasted by the flames. It was debated in the
Great Council whether the ruin should not be thrown down, and an
entirely new palace built in its stead. The opinions of all the leading
architects of Venice were taken, respecting the safety of the walls, or
the possibility of repairing them as they stood. These opinions, given
in writing, have been preserved, and published by the Abbé Cadorin, in
the work already so often referred to; and they form one of the most
important series of documents connected with the Ducal Palace.

I cannot help feeling some childish pleasure in the accidental
resemblance to my own name in that of the architect whose opinion was
first given in favor of the ancient fabric, Giovanni Rusconi. Others,
especially Palladio, wanted to pull down the old palace, and execute
designs of their own; but the best architects in Venice, and to his
immortal honor, chiefly Francesco Sansovino, energetically pleaded for
the Gothic pile, and prevailed. It was successfully repaired, and
Tintoret painted his noblest picture on the wall from which the Paradise
of Guariento had withered before the flames.

§ XXIX. The repairs necessarily undertaken at this time were however
extensive, and interfere in many directions with the earlier work of the
palace: still the only serious alteration in its form was the
transposition of the prisons, formerly at the top of the palace, to the
other side of the Rio del Palazzo; and the building of the Bridge of
Sighs, to connect them with the palace, by Antonio da Ponte. The
completion of this work brought the whole edifice into its present form;
with the exception of alterations in doors, partitions, and staircases
among the inner apartments, not worth noticing, and such barbarisms and
defacements as have been suffered within the last fifty years, by, I
suppose, nearly every building of importance in Italy.

§ XXX. Now, therefore, we are liberty to examine some of the details of
the Ducal Palace, without any doubt about their dates. I shall not,
however, give any elaborate illustrations of them here, because I could
not do them justice on the scale of the page of this volume, or by means
of line engraving. I believe a new era is opening to us in the art of
illustration,[137] and that I shall be able to give large figures of the
details of the Ducal Palace at a price which will enable every person
who is interested in the subject to possess them; so that the cost and
labor of multiplying illustrations here would be altogether wasted. I
shall therefore direct the reader's attention only to points of interest
as can be explained in the text.

§ XXXI. First, then, looking back to the woodcut at the beginning of
this chapter, the reader will observe that, as the building was very
nearly square on the ground plan, a peculiar prominence and importance
were given to its angles, which rendered it necessary that they should
be enriched and softened by sculpture. I do not suppose that the fitness
of this arrangement will be questioned; but if the reader will take the
pains to glance over any series of engravings of church towers or other
four-square buildings in which great refinement of form has been
attained, he will at once observe how their effect depends on some
modification of the sharpness of the angle, either by groups of
buttresses, or by turrets and niches rich in sculpture. It is to be
noted also that this principle of breaking the angle is peculiarly
Gothic, arising partly out of the necessity of strengthening the flanks
of enormous buildings, where composed of imperfect materials, by
buttresses or pinnacles; partly out of the conditions of Gothic warfare,
which generally required a tower at the angle; partly out of the natural
dislike of the meagreness of effect in buildings which admitted large
surfaces of wall, if the angle were entirely unrelieved. The Ducal
Palace, in its acknowledgment of this principle, makes a more definite
concession to the Gothic spirit than any of the previous architecture of
Venice. No angle, up to the time of its erection, had been otherwise
decorated than by a narrow fluted pilaster of red marble, and the
sculpture was reserved always, as in Greek and Roman work, for the plane
surfaces of the building, with, as far as I recollect, two exceptions
only, both in St. Mark's; namely, the bold and grotesque gargoyle on its
north-west angle, and the angels which project from the four inner
angles under the main cupola; both of these arrangements being plainly
made under Lombardic influence. And if any other instances occur, which
I may have at present forgotten, I am very sure the Northern influence
will always be distinctly traceable in them.

§ XXXII. The Ducal Palace, however, accepts the principle in its
completeness, and throws the main decoration upon its angles. The
central window, which looks rich and important in the woodcut, was
entirely restored in the Renaissance time, as we have seen, under the
Doge Steno; so that we have no traces of its early treatment; and the
principal interest of the older palace is concentrated in the angle
sculpture, which is arranged in the following manner. The pillars of the
two bearing arcades are much enlarged in thickness at the angles, and
their capitals increased in depth, breadth, and fulness of subject;
above each capital, on the angle of the wall, a sculptural subject is
introduced, consisting, in the great lower arcade, of two or more
figures of the size of life; in the upper arcade, of a single angel
holding a scroll: above these angels rise the twisted pillars with their
crowning niches, already noticed in the account of parapets in the
seventh chapter; thus forming an unbroken line of decoration from the
ground to the top of the angle.

§ XXXIII. It was before noticed that one of the corners of the palace
joins the irregular outer buildings connected with St. Mark's, and is
not generally seen. There remain, therefore, to be decorated, only the
three angles, above distinguished as the Vine angle, the Fig-tree angle,
and the Judgment angle; and at these we have, according to the
arrangement just explained,--

First, Three great bearing capitals (lower arcade).

Secondly, Three figure subjects of sculpture above them (lower arcade).

Thirdly, Three smaller bearing capitals (upper arcade).

Fourthly, Three angels above them (upper arcade).

Fifthly, Three spiral shafts with niches.

§ XXXIV. I shall describe the bearing capitals hereafter, in their
order, with the others of the arcade; for the first point to which the
reader's attention ought to be directed is the choice of subject in the
great figure sculptures above them. These, observe, are the very corner
stones of the edifice, and in them we may expect to find the most
important evidences of the feeling, as well as of the skill, of the
builder. If he has anything to say to us of the purpose with which he
built the palace, it is sure to be said here; if there was any lesson
which he wished principally to teach to those for whom he built, here
it is sure to be inculcated; if there was any sentiment which they
themselves desired to have expressed in the principal edifice of their
city, this is the place in which we may be secure of finding it legibly

§ XXXV. Now the first two angles, of the Vine and Fig-tree, belong to
the old, or true Gothic, Palace; the third angle belongs to the
Renaissance imitation of it: therefore, at the first two angles, it is
the Gothic spirit which is going to speak to us; and, at the third, the
Renaissance spirit.

The reader remembers, I trust, that the most characteristic sentiment of
all that we traced in the working of the Gothic heart, was the frank
confession of its own weakness; and I must anticipate, for a moment, the
results of our inquiry in subsequent chapters, so far as to state that
the principal element in the Renaissance spirit, is its firm confidence
in its own wisdom.

Hear, then, the two spirits speak for themselves.

The first main sculpture of the Gothic Palace is on what I have called
the angle of the Fig-tree:

Its subject is the FALL OF MAN.

The second sculpture is on the angle of the Vine:

Its subject is the DRUNKENNESS OF NOAH.

The Renaissance sculpture is on the Judgment angle:

Its subject is the JUDGMENT OF SOLOMON.

It is impossible to overstate, or to regard with too much admiration,
the significance of this single fact. It is as if the palace had been
built at various epochs, and preserved uninjured to this day, for the
sole purpose of teaching us the difference in the temper of the two

§ XXXVI. I have called the sculpture on the Fig-tree angle the principal
one; because it is at the central bend of the palace, where it turns to
the Piazzetta (the façade upon the Piazzetta being, as we saw above, the
more important one in ancient times). The great capital, which sustains
this Fig-tree angle, is also by far more elaborate than the head of the
pilaster under the Vine angle, marking the preëminence of the former in
the architect's mind. It is impossible to say which was first executed,
but that of the Fig-tree angle is somewhat rougher in execution, and
more stiff in the design of the figures, so that I rather suppose it to
have been the earliest completed.

[Illustration: Plate XIX.
               LEAFAGE OF THE VINE ANGLE.]

§ XXXVII. In both the subjects, of the Fall and the Drunkenness, the
tree, which forms the chiefly decorative portion of the sculpture,--fig
in the one case, vine in the other,--was a necessary adjunct. Its trunk,
in both sculptures, forms the true outer angle of the palace; boldly cut
separate from the stone-work behind, and branching out above the figures
so as to enwrap each side of the angle, for several feet, with its deep
foliage. Nothing can be more masterly or superb than the sweep of this
foliage on the Fig-tree angle; the broad leaves lapping round the
budding fruit, and sheltering from sight, beneath their shadows, birds
of the most graceful form and delicate plumage. The branches are,
however, so strong, and the masses of stone hewn into leafage so large,
that, notwithstanding the depth of the undercutting, the work remains
nearly uninjured; not so at the Vine angle, where the natural delicacy
of the vine-leaf and tendril having tempted the sculptor to greater
effort, he has passed the proper limits of his art, and cut the upper
stems so delicately that half of them have been broken away by the
casualties to which the situation of the sculpture necessarily exposes
it. What remains is, however, so interesting in its extreme refinement,
that I have chosen it for the subject of the opposite illustration
rather than the nobler masses of the fig-tree, which ought to be
rendered on a larger scale. Although half of the beauty of the
composition is destroyed by the breaking away of its central masses,
there is still enough in the distribution of the variously bending
leaves, and in the placing of the birds on the lighter branches, to
prove to us the power of the designer. I have already referred to this
Plate as a remarkable instance of the Gothic Naturalism; and, indeed, it
is almost impossible for the copying of nature to be carried farther
than in the fibres of the marble branches, and the careful finishing of
the tendrils: note especially the peculiar expression of the knotty
joints of the vine in the light branch which rises highest. Yet only
half the finish of the work can be seen in the Plate: for, in several
cases, the sculptor has shown the under sides of the leaves turned
boldly to the light, and has literally _carved every rib and vein upon
them, in relief_; not merely the main ribs which sustain the lobes of
the leaf, and actually project in nature, but the irregular and sinuous
veins which chequer the membranous tissues between them, and which the
sculptor has represented conventionally as relieved like the others, in
order to give the vine leaf its peculiar tessellated effect upon the

§ XXXVIII. As must always be the case in early sculpture, the figures
are much inferior to the leafage; yet so skilful in many respects, that
it was a long time before I could persuade myself that they had indeed
been wrought in the first half of the fourteenth century. Fortunately,
the date is inscribed upon a monument in the Church of San Simeon
Grande, bearing a recumbent statue of the saint, of far finer
workmanship, in every respect, than those figures of the Ducal Palace,
yet so like them, that I think there can be no question that the head of
Noah was wrought by the sculptor of the palace in emulation of that of
the statue of St. Simeon. In this latter sculpture, the face is
represented in death; the mouth partly open, the lips thin and sharp,
the teeth carefully sculptured beneath; the face full of quietness and
majesty, though very ghastly; the hair and beard flowing in luxuriant
wreaths, disposed with the most masterly freedom, yet severity, of
design, far down upon the shoulders; the hands crossed upon the body,
carefully studied, and the veins and sinews perfectly and easily
expressed, yet without any attempt at extreme finish or display of
technical skill. This monument bears date 1317,[138] and its sculptor
was justly proud of it; thus recording his name:


§ XXXIX. The head of the Noah on the Ducal Palace, evidently worked in
emulation of this statue, has the same profusion of flowing hair and
beard, but wrought in smaller and harder curls; and the veins on the
arms and breast are more sharply drawn, the sculptor being evidently
more practised in keen and fine lines of vegetation than in those of the
figure; so that, which is most remarkable in a workman of this early
period, he has failed in telling his story plainly, regret and wonder
being so equally marked on the features of all the three brothers that
it is impossible to say which is intended for Ham. Two of the heads of
the brothers are seen in the Plate; the third figure is not with the
rest of the group, but set at a distance of about twelve feet, on the
other side of the arch which springs from the angle capital.

§ XL. It may be observed, as a farther evidence of the date of the
group, that, in the figures of all the three youths, the feet are
protected simply by a bandage arranged in crossed folds round the ankle
and lower part of the limb; a feature of dress which will be found in
nearly every piece of figure sculpture in Venice, from the year 1300 to
1380, and of which the traveller may see an example within three hundred
yards of this very group, in the bas-reliefs on the tomb of the Doge
Andrea Dandolo (in St. Mark's), who died in 1354.

§ XLI. The figures of Adam and Eve, sculptured on each side of the
Fig-tree angle, are more stiff than those of Noah and his sons, but are
better fitted for their architectural service; and the trunk of the
tree, with the angular body of the serpent writhed around it, is more
nobly treated as a terminal group of lines than that of the vine.

The Renaissance sculptor of the figures of the Judgment of Solomon has
very nearly copied the fig-tree from this angle, placing its trunk
between the executioner and the mother, who leans forward to stay his
hand. But, though the whole group is much more free in design than those
of the earlier palace, and in many ways excellent in itself, so that it
always strikes the eye of a careless observer more than the others, it
is of immeasurably inferior spirit in the workmanship; the leaves of the
tree, though far more studiously varied in flow than those of the
fig-tree from which they are partially copied, have none of its truth to
nature; they are ill set on the stems, bluntly defined on the edges, and
their curves are not those of growing leaves, but of wrinkled drapery.

§ XLII. Above these three sculptures are set, in the upper arcade, the
statues of the archangels Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel: their positions
will be understood by reference to the lowest figure in Plate XVII.,
where that of Raphael above the Vine angle is seen on the right. A
diminutive figure of Tobit follows at his feet, and he bears in his hand
a scroll with this inscription:


i.e. Effice (quæso?) fretum, Raphael reverende, quietum.[139] I could
not decipher the inscription on the scroll borne by the angel Michael;
and the figure of Gabriel, which is by much the most beautiful feature
of the Renaissance portion of the palace, has only in its hand the
Annunciation lily.

§ XLIII. Such are the subjects of the main sculptures decorating the
angles of the palace; notable, observe, for their simple expression of
two feelings, the consciousness of human frailty, and the dependence
upon Divine guidance and protection: this being, of course, the general
purpose of the introduction of the figures of the angels; and, I
imagine, intended to be more particularly conveyed by the manner in
which the small figure of Tobit follows the steps of Raphael, just
touching the hem of his garment. We have next to examine the course of
divinity and of natural history embodied by the old sculpture in the
great series of capitals which support the lower arcade of the palace;
and which, being at a height of little more than eight feet above the
eye, might be read, like the pages of a book, by those (the noblest men
in Venice) who habitually walked beneath the shadow of this great arcade
at the time of their first meeting each other for morning converse.

§ XLIV. The principal sculptures of the capitals consist of
personifications of the Virtues and Vices, the favorite subjects of
decorative art, at this period, in all the cities of Italy; and there is
so much that is significant in the various modes of their distinction
and general representation, more especially with reference to their
occurrence as expressions of praise to the dead in sepulchral
architecture, hereafter to be examined, that I believe the reader may
both happily and profitably rest for a little while beneath the first
vault of the arcade, to review the manner in which these symbols of the
virtues were first invented by the Christian imagination, and the
evidence they generally furnish of the state of religious feeling in
those by whom they were recognised.

§ XLV. In the early ages of Christianity, there was little care taken to
analyze character. One momentous question was heard over the whole
world,--Dost thou believe in the Lord with all thine heart? There was
but one division among men,--the great unatoneable division between the
disciple and adversary. The love of Christ was all, and in all; and in
proportion to the nearness of their memory of His person and teaching,
men understood the infinity of the requirements of the moral law, and
the manner in which it alone could be fulfilled. The early Christians
felt that virtue, like sin, was a subtle universal thing, entering into
every act and thought, appearing outwardly in ten thousand diverse
ways, diverse according to the separate framework of every heart in
which it dwelt; but one and the same always in its proceeding from the
love of God, as sin is one and the same in proceeding from hatred of
God. And in their pure, early, and practical piety, they saw there was
no need for codes of morality, or systems of metaphysics. Their virtue
comprehended everything, entered into everything; it was too vast and
too spiritual to be defined; but there was no need of its definition.
For through faith, working by love, they knew that all human excellence
would be developed in due order; but that, without faith, neither reason
could define, nor effort reach, the lowest phase of Christian virtue.
And therefore, when any of the Apostles have occasion to describe or
enumerate any forms of vice or virtue by name, there is no attempt at
system in their words. They use them hurriedly and energetically,
heaping the thoughts one upon another, in order as far as possible to
fill the reader's mind with a sense of the infinity both of crime and of
righteousness. Hear St. Paul describe sin: "Being filled with all
unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness;
full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters,
haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things,
disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers,
without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful." There is evidently
here an intense feeling of the universality of sin; and in order to
express it, the Apostle hurries his words confusedly together, little
caring about their order, as knowing all the vices to be indissolubly
connected one with another. It would be utterly vain to endeavor to
arrange his expressions as if they had been intended for the ground of
any system, or to give any philosophical definition of the vices.[140]
So also hear him speaking of virtue: "Rejoice in the Lord. Let your
moderation be known unto all men. Be careful for nothing, but in
everything let your requests be made known unto God; and whatsoever
things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are
pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good
report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on
these things." Observe, he gives up all attempt at definition; he leaves
the definition to every man's heart, though he writes so as to mark the
overflowing fulness of his own vision of virtue. And so it is in all
writings of the Apostles; their manner of exhortation, and the kind of
conduct they press, vary according to the persons they address, and the
feeling of the moment at which they write, and never show any attempt at
logical precision. And, although the words of their Master are not thus
irregularly uttered, but are weighed like fine gold, yet, even in His
teaching, there is no detailed or organized system of morality; but the
command only of that faith and love which were to embrace the whole
being of man: "On these two commandments hang all the law and the
prophets." Here and there an incidental warning against this or that
more dangerous form of vice or error, "Take heed and beware of
covetousness," "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees;" here and there a
plain example of the meaning of Christian love, as in the parables of
the Samaritan and the Prodigal, and His own perpetual example: these
were the elements of Christ's constant teaching; for the Beatitudes,
which are the only approximation to anything like a systematic
statement, belong to different conditions and characters of individual
men, not to abstract virtues. And all early Christians taught in the
same manner. They never cared to expound the nature of this or that
virtue; for they knew that the believer who had Christ, had all. Did he
need fortitude? Christ was his rock: Equity? Christ was his
righteousness: Holiness? Christ was his sanctification: Liberty? Christ
was his redemption: Temperance? Christ was his ruler: Wisdom? Christ was
his light: Truthfulness? Christ was the truth: Charity? Christ was love.

§ XLVI. Now, exactly in proportion as the Christian religion became less
vital, and as the various corruptions which time and Satan brought into
it were able to manifest themselves, the person and offices of Christ
were less dwelt upon, and the virtues of Christians more. The Life of
the Believer became in some degree separated from the Life of Christ;
and his virtue, instead of being a stream flowing forth from the throne
of God, and descending upon the earth, began to be regarded by him as a
pyramid upon earth, which he had to build up, step by step, that from
the top of it he might reach the Heavens. It was not possible to measure
the waves of the water of life, but it was perfectly possible to measure
the bricks of the Tower of Babel; and gradually, as the thoughts of men
were withdrawn from their Redeemer, and fixed upon themselves, the
virtues began to be squared, and counted, and classified, and put into
separate heaps of firsts and seconds; some things being virtuous
cardinally, and other things virtuous only north-north-west. It is very
curious to put in close juxtaposition the words of the Apostles and of
some of the writers of the fifteenth century touching sanctification.
For instance, hear first St. Paul to the Thessalonians: "The very God of
peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and
body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." And then the
following part of a prayer which I translate from a MS. of the fifteenth
century: "May He (the Holy Spirit) govern the five Senses of my body;
may He cause me to embrace the Seven Works of Mercy, and firmly to
believe and observe the Twelve Articles of the Faith and the Ten
Commandments of the Law, and defend me from the Seven Mortal Sins, even
to the end."

§ XLVII. I do not mean that this quaint passage is generally
characteristic of the devotion of the fifteenth century: the very prayer
out of which it is taken is in other parts exceedingly beautiful:[141]
but the passage is strikingly illustrative of the tendency of the later
Romish Church, more especially in its most corrupt condition, just
before the Reformation, to throw all religion into forms and ciphers;
which tendency, as it affected Christian ethics, was confirmed by the
Renaissance enthusiasm for the works of Aristotle and Cicero, from whom
the code of the fifteenth century virtues was borrowed, and whose
authority was then infinitely more revered by all the Doctors of the
Church than that either of St. Paul or St. Peter.

§ XLVIII. Although, however, this change in the tone of the Christian
mind was most distinctly manifested when the revival of literature
rendered the works of the heathen philosophers the leading study of all
the greatest scholars of the period, it had been, as I said before,
taking place gradually from the earliest ages. It is, as far as I know,
that root of the Renaissance poison-tree, which, of all others, is
deepest struck; showing itself in various measures through the writings
of all the Fathers, of course exactly in proportion to the respect which
they paid to classical authors, especially to Plato, Aristotle, and
Cicero. The mode in which the pestilent study of that literature
affected them may be well illustrated by the examination of a single
passage from the works of one of the best of them, St. Ambrose, and of
the mode in which that passage was then amplified and formulized by
later writers.

§ XLIX. Plato, indeed, studied alone, would have done no one any harm.
He is profoundly spiritual and capacious in all his views, and embraces
the small systems of Aristotle and Cicero, as the solar system does the
Earth. He seems to me especially remarkable for the sense of the great
Christian virtue of Holiness, or sanctification; and for the sense of
the presence of the Deity in all things, great or small, which always
runs in a solemn undercurrent beneath his exquisite playfulness and
irony; while all the merely moral virtues may be found in his writings
defined in the most noble manner, as a great painter defines his
figures, _without outlines_. But the imperfect scholarship of later ages
seems to have gone to Plato, only to find in him the system of Cicero;
which indeed was very definitely expressed by him. For it having been
quickly felt by all men who strove, unhelped by Christian faith, to
enter at the strait gate into the paths of virtue, that there were four
characters of mind which were protective or preservative of all that was
best in man, namely, Prudence, Justice, Courage, and Temperance,[142]
these were afterwards, with most illogical inaccuracy, called cardinal
_virtues_, Prudence being evidently no virtue, but an intellectual gift:
but this inaccuracy arose partly from the ambiguous sense of the Latin
word "virtutes," which sometimes, in mediæval language, signifies
virtues, sometimes powers (being occasionally used in the Vulgate for
the word "hosts," as in Psalm ciii. 21, cxlviii. 2, &c., while
"fortitudines" and "exercitus" are used for the same word in other
places), so that Prudence might properly be styled a power, though not
properly a virtue; and partly from the confusion of Prudence with
Heavenly Wisdom. The real rank of these four virtues, if so they are to
be called, is however properly expressed by the term "cardinal." They
are virtues of the compass, those by which all others are directed and
strengthened; they are not the greatest virtues, but the restraining or
modifying virtues, thus Prudence restrains zeal, Justice restrains
mercy, Fortitude and Temperance guide the entire system of the passions;
and, thus understood, these virtues properly assumed their peculiar
leading or guiding position in the system of Christian ethics. But in
Pagan ethics, they were not only guiding, but comprehensive. They meant
a great deal more on the lips of the ancients, than they now express to
the Christian mind. Cicero's Justice includes charity, beneficence, and
benignity, truth, and faith in the sense of trustworthiness. His
Fortitude includes courage, self-command, the scorn of fortune and of
all temporary felicities. His Temperance includes courtesy and modesty.
So also, in Plato, these four virtues constitute the sum of education. I
do not remember any more simple or perfect expression of the idea, than
in the account given by Socrates, in the "Alcibiades I.," of the
education of the Persian kings, for whom, in their youth, there are
chosen, he says, four tutors from among the Persian nobles; namely, the
Wisest, the most Just, the most Temperate, and the most Brave of them.
Then each has a distinct duty: "The Wisest teaches the young king the
worship of the gods, and the duties of a king (something more here,
observe, than our 'Prudence!'); the most Just teaches him to speak all
truth, and to act out all truth, through the whole course of his life;
the most Temperate teaches him to allow no pleasure to have the mastery
of him, so that he may be truly free, and indeed a king; and the most
Brave makes him fearless of all things, showing him that the moment he
fears anything, he becomes a slave."

§ L. All this is exceedingly beautiful, so far as it reaches; but the
Christian divines were grievously led astray by their endeavors to
reconcile this system with the nobler law of love. At first, as in the
passage I am just going to quote from St. Ambrose, they tried to graft
the Christian system on the four branches of the Pagan one; but finding
that the tree would not grow, they planted the Pagan and Christian
branches side by side; adding, to the four cardinal virtues, the three
called by the schoolmen theological, namely, Faith, Hope, and Charity:
the one series considered as attainable by the Heathen, but the other by
the Christian only. Thus Virgil to Sordello:

  "Loco e laggiù, non tristo da martiri
    Ma di tenebre solo, ove i lamenti
    Non suonan come guai, ma son sospiri:

         *       *       *       *       *

  Quivi sto io, con quei che le tre sante
    Virtù non si vestiro, e senza vizio
    Conobbei l' altre, e seguir, tutte quante."

  . . . . . "There I with those abide
  Who the Three Holy Virtues put not on,
  But understood the rest, and without blame
  Followed them all."


§ LI. This arrangement of the virtues was, however, productive of
infinite confusion and error: in the first place, because Faith is
classed with its own fruits,--the gift of God, which is the root of the
virtues, classed simply as one of them; in the second, because the words
used by the ancients to express the several virtues had always a
different meaning from the same expressions in the Bible, sometimes a
more extended, sometimes a more limited one. Imagine, for instance, the
confusion which must have been introduced into the ideas of a student
who read St. Paul and Aristotle alternately; considering that the word
which the Greek writer uses for Justice, means, with St. Paul,
Righteousness. And lastly, it is impossible to overrate the mischief
produced in former days, as well as in our own, by the mere habit of
reading Aristotle, whose system is so false, so forced, and so
confused, that the study of it at our universities is quite enough to
occasion the utter want of accurate habits of thought which so often
disgraces men otherwise well-educated. In a word, Aristotle mistakes the
Prudence or Temperance which must regulate the operation of the virtues,
for the essence of the virtues themselves; and, striving to show that
all virtues are means between two opposite vices, torments his wit to
discover and distinguish as many pairs of vices as are necessary to the
completion of his system, not disdaining to employ sophistry where
invention fails him.

And, indeed, the study of classical literature, in general, not only
fostered in the Christian writers the unfortunate love of systematizing,
which gradually degenerated into every species of contemptible
formulism, but it accustomed them to work out their systems by the help
of any logical quibble, or verbal subtlety, which could be made
available for their purpose, and this not with any dishonest intention,
but in a sincere desire to arrange their ideas in systematical groups,
while yet their powers of thought were not accurate enough, nor their
common sense stern enough, to detect the fallacy, or disdain the
finesse, by which these arrangements were frequently accomplished.

§ LII. Thus St. Ambrose, in his commentary on Luke vi. 20, is resolved
to transform the four Beatitudes there described into rewards of the
four cardinal Virtues, and sets himself thus ingeniously to the task:

"'Blessed be ye poor.' Here you have Temperance. 'Blessed are ye that
hunger now.' He who hungers, pities those who are an-hungered; in
pitying, he gives to them, and in giving he becomes just (largiendo fit
Justus). 'Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh.' Here you
have Prudence, whose part it is to weep, so far as present things are
concerned, and to seek things which are eternal. 'Blessed are ye when
men shall hate you.' Here you have Fortitude."

§ LIII. As a preparation for this profitable exercise of wit, we have
also a reconciliation of the Beatitudes as stated by St. Matthew, with
those of St. Luke, on the ground that "in those eight are these four,
and in these four are those eight;" with sundry remarks on the mystical
value of the number eight, with which I need not trouble the reader.
With St. Ambrose, however, this puerile systematization is quite
subordinate to a very forcible and truthful exposition of the real
nature of the Christian life. But the classification he employs
furnishes ground for farther subtleties to future divines; and in a MS.
of the thirteenth century I find some expressions in this commentary on
St. Luke, and in the treatise on the duties of bishops, amplified into a
treatise on the "Steps of the Virtues: by which every one who perseveres
may, by a straight path, attain to the heavenly country of the Angels."
("Liber de Gradibus Virtutum: quibus ad patriam angelorum supernam
itinere recto ascenditur ab omni perseverante.") These Steps are thirty
in number (one expressly for each day of the month), and the curious
mode of their association renders the list well worth quoting:--

§ LIV. Primus gradus est  Fides Recta.          Unerring faith.
       Secundus "         Spes firma.           Firm hope.
       Tertius  "         Caritas perfecta.     Perfect charity.
          4.    "         Patientia vera.       True patience.
          5.    "         Humilitas sancta.     Holy humility.
          6.    "         Mansuetudo.           Meekness.
          7.    "         Intelligentia.        Understanding.
          8.    "         Compunctio cordis.    Contrition of heart.
          9.    "         Oratio.               Prayer.
         10.    "         Confessio pura.       Pure confession.
         11.    "         Penitentia digna.     Fitting penance.[143]
         12.    "         Abstinentia.          Abstinence (fasting).
         13.    "         Timor Dei.            Fear of God.
         14.    "         Virginitas.           Virginity.
         15.    "         Justicia.             Justice.
         16.    "         Misericordia.         Mercy.
         17.    "         Elemosina.            Almsgiving.
         18.    "         Hospitalitas.         Hospitality.
         19.    "         Honor parentum.       Honoring of parents.
         20.    "         Silencium.            Silence.
         21.    "         Consilium bonum.      Good counsel.
         22.    "         Judicium rectum.      Right judgment.
         23.    "         Exemplum bonum.       Good example.
         24.    "         Visitatio infirmorum. Visitation of the sick.
         25.    "         Frequentatio          Companying with saints.
         26.    "         Oblatio justa.        Just oblations.
         27.    "         Decimas Deo solvere.  Paying tithes to God.
         28.    "         Sapientia.            Wisdom.
         29.    "         Voluntas bona.        Goodwill.
         30.    "         Perseverantia.        Perseverance.

§ LV. The reader will note that the general idea of Christian virtue
embodied in this list is true, exalted, and beautiful; the points of
weakness being the confusion of duties with virtues, and the vain
endeavor to enumerate the various offices of charity as so many separate
virtues; more frequently arranged as seven distinct works of mercy. This
general tendency to a morbid accuracy of classification was associated,
in later times, with another very important element of the Renaissance
mind, the love of personification; which appears to have reached its
greatest vigor in the course of the sixteenth century, and is expressed
to all future ages, in a consummate manner, in the poem of Spenser. It
is to be noted that personification is, in some sort, the reverse of
symbolism, and is far less noble. Symbolism is the setting forth of a
great truth by an imperfect and inferior sign (as, for instance, of the
hope of the resurrection by the form of the phoenix); and it is almost
always employed by men in their most serious moods of faith, rarely in
recreation. Men who use symbolism forcibly are almost always true
believers in what they symbolize. But Personification is the bestowing
of a human or living form upon an abstract idea: it is, in most cases, a
mere recreation of the fancy, and is apt to disturb the belief in the
reality of the thing personified. Thus symbolism constituted the entire
system of the Mosaic dispensation: it occurs in every word of Christ's
teaching; it attaches perpetual mystery to the last and most solemn act
of His life. But I do not recollect a single instance of personification
in any of His words. And as we watch, thenceforward, the history of the
Church, we shall find the declension of its faith exactly marked by the
abandonment of symbolism,[144] and the profuse employment of
personification,--even to such an extent that the virtues came, at last,
to be confused with the saints; and we find in the later Litanies, St.
Faith, St. Hope, St. Charity, and St. Chastity, invoked immediately
after St. Clara and St. Bridget.

§ LVI. Nevertheless, in the hands of its early and earnest masters, in
whom fancy could not overthrow the foundations of faith, personification
is, often thoroughly noble and lovely; the earlier conditions of it
being just as much more spiritual and vital than the later ones, as the
still earlier symbolism was more spiritual than they. Compare, for
instance, Dante's burning Charity, running and returning at the wheels
of the chariot of God,--

            "So ruddy, that her form had scarce
  Been known within a furnace of clear flame,"

with Reynolds's Charity, a nurse in a white dress, climbed upon by three
children.[145] And not only so, but the number and nature of the virtues
differ considerably in the statements of different poets and painters,
according to their own views of religion, or to the manner of life they
had it in mind to illustrate. Giotto, for instance, arranges his system
altogether differently at Assisi, where he is setting forth the monkish
life, and in the Arena Chapel, where he treats of that of mankind in
general, and where, therefore, he gives only the so-called theological
and cardinal virtues; while, at Assisi, the three principal virtues are
those which are reported to have appeared in vision to St. Francis,
Chastity, Obedience, and Poverty: Chastity being attended by Fortitude,
Purity, and Penance; Obedience by Prudence and Humility; Poverty by Hope
and Charity. The systems vary with almost every writer, and in almost
every important work of art which embodies them, being more or less
spiritual according to the power of intellect by which they were
conceived. The most noble in literature are, I suppose, those of Dante
and Spenser: and with these we may compare five of the most interesting
series in the early art of Italy; namely, those of Orcagna, Giotto, and
Simon Memmi, at Florence and Padua, and those of St. Mark's and the
Ducal Palace at Venice. Of course, in the richest of these series, the
vices are personified together with the virtues, as in the Ducal Palace;
and by the form or name of opposed vice, we may often ascertain, with
much greater accuracy than would otherwise be possible, the particular
idea of the contrary virtue in the mind of the writer or painter. Thus,
when opposed to Prudence, or Prudentia, on the one side, we find Folly,
or Stultitia, on the other, it shows that the virtue understood by
Prudence, is not the mere guiding or cardinal virtue, but the Heavenly
Wisdom,[146] opposed to that folly which "hath said in its heart, there
is no God;" and of which it is said, "the thought of foolishness is
sin;" and again, "Such as be foolish shall not stand in thy sight." This
folly is personified, in early painting and illumination, by a
half-naked man, greedily eating an apple or other fruit, and brandishing
a club; showing that sensuality and violence are the two principal
characteristics of Foolishness, and lead into atheism. The figure, in
early Psalters, always forms the letter D, which commences the
fifty-third Psalm, "_Dixit insipiens_."

§ LVII. In reading Dante, this mode of reasoning from contraries is a
great help, for his philosophy of the vices is the only one which admits
of classification; his descriptions of virtue, while they include the
ordinary formal divisions, are far too profound and extended to be
brought under definition. Every line of the "Paradise" is full of the
most exquisite and spiritual expressions of Christian truth; and that
poem is only less read than the "Inferno" because it requires far
greater attention, and, perhaps, for its full enjoyment, a holier heart.

§ LVIII. His system in the "Inferno" is briefly this. The whole nether
world is divided into seven circles, deep within deep, in each of which,
according to its depth, severer punishment is inflicted. These seven
circles, reckoning them downwards, are thus allotted:

  1. To those who have lived virtuously, but knew not Christ.
  2. To Lust.
  3. To Gluttony.
  4. To Avarice and Extravagance.
  5. To Anger and _Sorrow_.
  6. To Heresy.
  7. To Violence and Fraud.

This seventh circle is divided into two parts; of which the first,
reserved for those who have been guilty of Violence, is again divided
into three, apportioned severally to those who have committed, or
desired to commit, violence against their neighbors, against themselves,
or against God.

The lowest hell, reserved for the punishment of Fraud, is itself divided
into ten circles, wherein are severally punished the sins of,--

   1. Betraying women.
   2. Flattery.
   3. Simony.
   4. False prophecy.
   5. Peculation.
   6. Hypocrisy.
   7. Theft.
   8. False counsel.
   9. Schism and Imposture.
  10. Treachery to those who repose entire trust in the traitor.

§ LIX. There is, perhaps, nothing more notable in this most interesting
system than the profound truth couched under the attachment of so
terrible a penalty to sadness or sorrow. It is true that Idleness does
not elsewhere appear in the scheme, and is evidently intended to be
included in the guilt of sadness by the word "accidioso;" but the main
meaning of the poet is to mark the duty of rejoicing in God, according
both to St. Paul's command, and Isaiah's promise, "Thou meetest him that
rejoiceth and worketh righteousness."[147] I do not know words that
might with more benefit be borne with us, and set in our hearts
momentarily against the minor regrets and rebelliousnesses of life, than
these simple ones:

                       "Tristi fummo
  Nel aer dolce, che del sol s' allegra,
  Or ci attristiam, nella belletta negra."

                "We once were sad,
  In the sweet air, made gladsome by the sun,
  Now in these murky settlings are we sad."[148]          CARY.

The virtue usually opposed to this vice of sullenness is Alacritas,
uniting the sense of activity and cheerfulness. Spenser has cheerfulness
simply, in his description, never enough to be loved or praised, of the
virtues of Womanhood; first feminineness or womanhood in specialty;

    "Next to her sate goodly Shamefastnesse,
   Ne ever durst, her eyes from ground upreare,
   Ne ever once did looke up from her desse,[149]
   As if some blame of evill she did feare
   That in her cheekes made roses oft appeare:
   And her against sweet Cherefulnesse was placed,
   Whose eyes, like twinkling stars in evening cleare,
   Were deckt with smyles that all sad humours chaced.

  "And next to her sate sober Modestie,
   Holding her hand upon her gentle hart;
   And her against, sate comely Curtesie,
   _That unto every person knew her part_;
   And her before was seated overthwart
   Soft Silence, and submisse Obedience,
   Both linckt together never to dispart."

§ LX. Another notable point in Dante's system is the intensity of
uttermost punishment given to treason, the peculiar sin of Italy, and
that to which, at this day, she attributes her own misery with her own
lips. An Italian, questioned as to the causes of the failure of the
campaign of 1848, always makes one answer, "We were betrayed;" and the
most melancholy feature of the present state of Italy is principally
this, that she does not see that, of all causes to which failure might
be attributed, this is at once the most disgraceful, and the most
hopeless. In fact, Dante seems to me to have written almost
prophetically, for the instruction of modern Italy, and chiefly so in
the sixth canto of the "Purgatorio."

§ LXI. Hitherto we have been considering the system of the "Inferno"
only. That of the "Purgatorio" is much simpler, it being divided into
seven districts, in which the souls are severally purified from the sins
of Pride, Envy, Wrath, Indifference, Avarice, Gluttony, and Lust; the
poet thus implying in opposition, and describing in various instances,
the seven virtues of Humility, Kindness,[150] Patience, Zeal, Poverty,
Abstinence, and Chastity, as adjuncts of the Christian character, in
which it may occasionally fail, while the essential group of the three
theological and four cardinal virtues are represented as in direct
attendance on the chariot of the Deity; and all the sins of Christians
are in the seventeenth canto traced to the deficiency or aberration of

§ LXII. The system of Spenser is unfinished, and exceedingly
complicated, the same vices and virtues occurring under different forms
in different places, in order to show their different relations to each
other. I shall not therefore give any general sketch of it, but only
refer to the particular personification of each virtue in order to
compare it with that of the Ducal Palace.[151] The peculiar superiority
of his system is in its exquisite setting forth of Chastity under the
figure of Britomart; not monkish chastity, but that of the purest Love.
In completeness of personification no one can approach him; not even in
Dante do I remember anything quite so great as the description of the
Captain of the Lusts of the Flesh:

  "As pale and wan as ashes was his looke;
   His body lean and meagre as a rake;
   And skin all withered like a dryed rooke;
   Thereto as cold and drery as a snake;
   That seemed to tremble evermore, and quake:
   _All in a canvas thin he was bedight,
   And girded with a belt of twisted brake_:
   Upon his head he wore an helmet light,
   Made of a dead man's skull."

He rides upon a tiger, and in his hand is a bow, bent;

  "And many arrows under his right side,
   Headed with flint, and fethers bloody dide."

The horror and the truth of this are beyond everything that I know, out
of the pages of Inspiration. Note the heading of the arrows with flint,
because sharper and more subtle in the edge than steel, and because
steel might consume away with rust, but flint not; and consider in the
whole description how the wasting away of body and soul together, and
the _coldness_ of the heart, which unholy fire has consumed into ashes,
and the loss of all power, and the kindling of all terrible impatience,
and the implanting of thorny and inextricable griefs, are set forth by
the various images, the belt of brake, the tiger steed, and the _light_
helmet, girding the head with death.

§ LXIII. Perhaps the most interesting series of the Virtues expressed in
Italian art are those above mentioned of Simon Memmi in the Spanish
chapel at Florence, of Ambrogio di Lorenzo in the Palazzo Publico of
Pisa, of Orcagna in Or San Michele at Florence, of Giotto at Padua and
Assisi, in mosaic on the central cupola of St. Mark's, and in sculpture
on the pillars of the Ducal Palace. The first two series are carefully
described by Lord Lindsay; both are too complicated for comparison with
the more simple series of the Ducal Palace; the other four of course
agree in giving first the cardinal and evangelical virtues; their
variations in the statement of the rest will be best understood by
putting them in a parallel arrangement.

  ST. MARK'S.           ORCAGNA.         GIOTTO.         DUCAL PALACE.

  Constancy.          Perseverance.                      Constancy.
  Modesty.                                               Modesty.
  Chastity.           Virginity         Chastity.        Chastity.
  Patience.           Patience.                          Patience.
  Abstinence.                                            Abstinence?
  Piety.[152]           Devotion.
  Humility.           Humility.         Humility.        Humility.
                      Obedience.        Obedience.       Obedience.
                                        Poverty.         _Honesty._

§ LXIV. It is curious, that in none of these lists do we find either
_Honesty_ or _Industry_ ranked as a virtue, except in the Venetian one,
where the latter is implied in Alacritas, and opposed not only by
"Accidia" or sloth, but by a whole series of eight sculptures on another
capital, illustrative, as I believe, of the temptations to idleness;
while various other capitals, as we shall see presently, are devoted to
the representation of the active trades. Industry, in Northern art and
Northern morality, assumes a very principal place. I have seen in French
manuscripts the virtues reduced to these seven, Charity, Chastity,
Patience, Abstinence, Humility, Liberality, and Industry: and I doubt
whether, if we were but to add Honesty (or Truth), a wiser or shorter
list could be made out.

§ LXV. We will now take the pillars of the Ducal Palace in their order.
It has already been mentioned (Vol. I. Chap. I. § XLVI.) that there are,
in all, thirty-six great pillars supporting the lower story; and that
these are to be counted from right to left, because then the more
ancient of them come first: and that, thus arranged, the first, which is
not a shaft, but a pilaster, will be the support of the Vine angle; the
eighteenth will be the great shaft of the Fig-tree angle; and the
thirty-sixth, that of the Judgment angle.

§ LXVI. All their capitals, except that of the first, are octagonal, and
are decorated by sixteen leaves, differently enriched in every capital,
but arranged in the same way; eight of them rising to the angles, and
there forming volutes; the eight others set between them, on the sides,
rising half-way up the bell of the capital; there nodding forward, and
showing above them, rising out of their luxuriance, the groups or single
figures which we have to examine.[153] In some instances, the
intermediate or lower leaves are reduced to eight sprays of foliage; and
the capital is left dependent for its effect on the bold position of the
figures. In referring to the figures on the octagonal capitals, I shall
call the outer side, fronting either the Sea or the Piazzetta, the first
side; and so count round from left to right; the fourth side being thus,
of course, the innermost. As, however, the first five arches were walled
up after the great fire, only three sides of their capitals are left
visible, which we may describe as the front and the eastern and western
sides of each.

§ LXVII. FIRST CAPITAL: i.e. of the pilaster at the Vine angle.

In front, towards the Sea. A child holding a bird before him, with its
wings expanded, covering his breast.

On its eastern side. Children's heads among leaves.

On its western side. A child carrying in one hand a comb; in the other,
a pair of scissors.

It appears curious, that this, the principal pilaster of the façade,
should have been decorated only by these graceful grotesques, for I can
hardly suppose them anything more. There may be meaning in them, but I
will not venture to conjecture any, except the very plain and practical
meaning conveyed by the last figure to all Venetian children, which it
would be well if they would act upon. For the rest, I have seen the comb
introduced in grotesque work as early as the thirteenth century, but
generally for the purpose of ridiculing too great care in dressing the
hair, which assuredly is not its purpose here. The children's heads are
very sweet and full of life, but the eyes sharp and small.

§ LXVIII. SECOND CAPITAL. Only three sides of the original work are left
unburied by the mass of added wall. Each side has a bird, one
web-footed, with a fish, one clawed, with a serpent, which opens its
jaws, and darts its tongue at the bird's breast; the third pluming
itself, with a feather between the mandibles of its bill. It is by far
the most beautiful of the three capitals decorated with birds.

THIRD CAPITAL. Also has three sides only left. They have three heads,
large, and very ill cut; one female, and crowned.

FOURTH CAPITAL. Has three children. The eastern one is defaced: the one
in front holds a small bird, whose plumage is beautifully indicated, in
its right hand; and with its left holds up half a walnut, showing the
nut inside: the third holds a fresh fig, cut through, showing the seeds.

The hair of all the three children is differently worked: the first has
luxuriant flowing hair, and a double chin; the second, light flowing
hair falling in pointed locks on the forehead; the third, crisp curling
hair, deep cut with drill holes.

This capital has been copied on the Renaissance side of the palace, only
with such changes in the ideal of the children as the workman thought
expedient and natural. It is highly interesting to compare the child of
the fourteenth with the child of the fifteenth century. The early heads
are full of youthful life, playful, humane, affectionate, beaming with
sensation and vivacity, but with much manliness and firmness, also, not
a little cunning, and some cruelty perhaps, beneath all; the features
small and hard, and the eyes keen. There is the making of rough and
great men in them. But the children of the fifteenth century are dull
smooth-faced dunces, without a single meaning line in the fatness of
their stolid cheeks; and, although, in the vulgar sense, as handsome as
the other children are ugly, capable of becoming nothing but perfumed

FIFTH CAPITAL. Still three sides only left, bearing three half-length
statues of kings; this is the first capital which bears any inscription.
In front, a king with a sword in his right hand points to a handkerchief
embroidered and fringed, with a head on it, carved on the cavetto of the
abacus. His name is written above, "TITUS VESPASIAN IMPERATOR"
(contracted [Illustration: IPAT.]).

On eastern side, "TRAJANUS IMPERATOR." Crowned, a sword in right hand,
and sceptre in left.

On western, "(OCT)AVIANUS AUGUSTUS IMPERATOR." The "OCT" is broken away.
He bears a globe in his right hand, with "MUNDUS PACIS" upon it; a
sceptre in his left, which I think has terminated in a human figure. He
has a flowing beard, and a singularly high crown; the face is much
injured, but has once been very noble in expression.

SIXTH CAPITAL. Has large male and female heads, very coarsely cut, hard,
and bad.

§ LXIX. SEVENTH CAPITAL. This is the first of the series which is
complete; the first open arch of the lower arcade being between it and
the sixth. It begins the representation of the Virtues.

_First side_. Largitas, or Liberality: always distinguished from the
higher Charity. A male figure, with his lap full of money, which he
pours out of his hand. The coins are plain, circular, and smooth; there
is no attempt to mark device upon them. The inscription above is,

In the copy of this design on the twenty-fifth capital, instead of
showering out the gold from his open hand, the figure holds it in a
plate or salver, introduced for the sake of disguising the direct
imitation. The changes thus made in the Renaissance pillars are always

This virtue is the proper opponent of Avarice; though it does not occur
in the systems of Orcagna or Giotto, being included in Charity. It was a
leading virtue with Aristotle and the other ancients.

§ LXX. _Second side_. Constancy; not very characteristic. An armed man
with a sword in his hand, inscribed, "CONSTANTIA SUM, NIL TIMENS."

This virtue is one of the forms of fortitude, and Giotto therefore sets
as the vice opponent to Fortitude, "Inconstantia," represented as a
woman in loose drapery, falling from a rolling globe. The vision seen in
the interpreter's house in the Pilgrim's Progress, of the man with a
very bold countenance, who says to him who has the writer's ink-horn by
his side, "Set down my name," is the best personification of the
Venetian "Constantia" of which I am aware in literature. It would be
well for us all to consider whether we have yet given the order to the
man with the ink-horn, "Set down my name."

§ LXXI. _Third side_. Discord; holding up her finger, but needing the
inscription above to assure us of her meaning, "DISCORDIA SUM,
DISCORDANS." In the Renaissance copy she is a meek and nun-like person
with a veil.

She is the Atë of Spenser; "mother of debate," thus described in the
fourth book:

  "Her face most fowle and filthy was to see,
   With squinted eyes contrarie wayes intended;
   And loathly mouth, unmeete a mouth to bee,
   That nought but gall and venim comprehended,
   And wicked wordes that God and man offended:
   Her lying tongue was in two parts divided,
   And both the parts did speake, and both contended;
   And as her tongue, so was her hart discided,
   That never thoght one thing, but doubly stil was guided."

Note the fine old meaning of "discided," cut in two; it is a great pity
we have lost this powerful expression. We might keep "determined" for
the other sense of the word.

§ LXXII. _Fourth side._ Patience. A female figure, very expressive and
lovely, in a hood, with her right hand on her breast, the left extended,

She is one of the principal virtues in all the Christian systems: a
masculine virtue in Spenser, and beautifully placed as the _Physician_
in the House of Holinesse. The opponent vice, Impatience, is one of the
hags who attend the Captain of the Lusts of the Flesh; the other being
Impotence. In like manner, in the "Pilgrim's Progress," the opposite of
Patience is Passion; but Spenser's thought is farther carried. His two
hags, Impatience and Impotence, as attendant upon the evil spirit of
Passion, embrace all the phenomena of human conduct, down even to the
smallest matters, according to the adage, "More haste, worse speed."

§ LXXIII. _Fifth side._ Despair. A female figure thrusting a dagger into
her throat, and tearing her long hair, which flows down among the leaves
of the capital below her knees. One of the finest figures of the series;
inscribed "DESPERACIO MÔS (mortis?) CRUDELIS." In the Renaissance copy
she is totally devoid of expression, and appears, instead of tearing her
hair, to be dividing it into long curls on each side.

This vice is the proper opposite of Hope. By Giotto she is represented
as a woman hanging herself, a fiend coming for her soul. Spenser's
vision of Despair is well known, it being indeed currently reported that
this part of the Faerie Queen was the first which drew to it the
attention of Sir Philip Sidney.

§ LXXIV. _Sixth side._ Obedience: with her arms folded; meek, but rude
and commonplace, looking at a little dog standing on its hind legs and
begging, with a collar round its neck. Inscribed "OBEDIENTI * *;" the
rest of the sentence is much defaced, but looks like [Illustration:
Graphic signs]. I suppose the note of contraction above the final A has
disappeared and that the inscription was "Obedientiam domino exhibeo."

This virtue is, of course, a principal one in the monkish systems;
represented by Giotto at Assisi as "an angel robed in black, placing the
finger of his left hand on his mouth, and passing the yoke over the head
of a Franciscan monk kneeling at his feet."[154]

Obedience holds a less principal place in Spenser. We have seen her
above associated with the other peculiar virtues of womanhood.

§ LXXV. _Seventh side._ Infidelity. A man in a turban, with a small
image in his hand, or the image of a child. Of the inscription nothing
but "INFIDELITATE * * *" and some fragmentary letters, "ILI, CERO,"

By Giotto Infidelity is most nobly symbolized as a woman helmeted, the
helmet having a broad rim which keeps the light from her eyes. She is
covered with heavy drapery, stands infirmly as if about to fall, is
_bound by a cord round her neck to an image_ which she carries in her
hand, and has flames bursting forth at her feet.

In Spenser, Infidelity is the Saracen knight Sans Foy,--

       "Full large of limbe and every joint
  He was, and cared not for God or man a point."

For the part which he sustains in the contest with Godly Fear, or the
Red-cross knight, see Appendix 2, Vol. III.

§ LXXVI. _Eighth side_. Modesty; bearing a pitcher. (In the Renaissance
copy, a vase like a coffee-pot.) Inscribed "MODESTIA [Illustration:
Graphic signs]."

I do not find this virtue in any of the Italian series, except that of
Venice. In Spenser she is of course one of those attendant on
Womanhood, but occurs as one of the tenants of the Heart of Man, thus
portrayed in the second book:

  "Straunge was her tyre, and all her garment blew,
   Close rownd about her tuckt with many a plight:
   Upon her fist the bird which shonneth vew.

          *       *       *       *       *

   And ever and anone with rosy red
   The bashfull blood her snowy cheekes did dye,
   That her became, as polisht yvory
   Which cunning craftesman hand hath overlayd
   With fayre vermilion or pure castory."

§ LXXVII. EIGHTH CAPITAL. It has no inscriptions, and its subjects are
not, by themselves, intelligible; but they appear to be typical of the
degradation of human instincts.

_First side._ A caricature of Arion on his dolphin; he wears a cap
ending in a long proboscis-like horn, and plays a violin with a curious
twitch of the bow and wag of the head, very graphically expressed, but
still without anything approaching to the power of Northern grotesque.
His dolphin has a goodly row of teeth, and the waves beat over his back.

_Second side._ A human figure, with curly hair and the legs of a bear;
the paws laid, with great sculptural skill, upon the foliage. It plays a
violin, shaped like a guitar, with a bent double-stringed bow.

_Third side._ A figure with a serpent's tail and a monstrous head,
founded on a Negro type, hollow-cheeked, large-lipped, and wearing a cap
made of a serpent's skin, holding a fir-cone in its hand.

_Fourth side._ A monstrous figure, terminating below in a tortoise. It
is devouring a gourd, which it grasps greedily with both hands; it wears
a cap ending in a hoofed leg.

_Fifth side._ A centaur wearing a crested helmet, and holding a curved

_Sixth side._ A knight, riding a headless horse, and wearing chain
armor, with a triangular shield flung behind his back, and a two-edged

_Seventh side._ A figure like that on the fifth, wearing a round
helmet, and with the legs and tail of a horse. He bears a long mace with
a top like a fir-cone.

_Eighth side._ A figure with curly hair, and an acorn in its hand,
ending below in a fish.

§ LXXVIII. Ninth Capital. _First side._ Faith. She has her left hand on
her breast, and the cross on her right. Inscribed "FIDES OPTIMA IN DEO."
The Faith of Giotto holds the cross in her right hand; in her left, a
scroll with the Apostles' Creed. She treads upon cabalistic books, and
has a key suspended to her waist. Spenser's Faith (Fidelia) is still
more spiritual and noble:

  "She was araied all in lilly white,
   And in her right hand bore a cup of gold,
   With wine and water fild up to the hight,
   In which a serpent did himselfe enfold,
   That horrour made to all that did behold;
   But she no whitt did chaunge her constant mood:
   And in her other hand she fast did hold
   A booke, that was both signd and seald with blood;
   Wherein darke things were writt, hard to be understood."

§ LXXIX. _Second side._ Fortitude. A long-bearded man [Samson?] tearing
open a lion's jaw. The inscription is illegible, and the somewhat vulgar
personification appears to belong rather to Courage than Fortitude. On
the Renaissance copy it is inscribed "FORTITUDO SUM VIRILIS." The Latin
word has, perhaps, been received by the sculptor as merely signifying
"Strength," the rest of the perfect idea of this virtue having been
given in "Constantia" previously. But both these Venetian symbols
together do not at all approach the idea of Fortitude as given generally
by Giotto and the Pisan sculptors; clothed with a lion's skin, knotted
about her neck, and falling to her feet in deep folds; drawing back her
right hand, with the sword pointed towards her enemy; and slightly
retired behind her immovable shield, which, with Giotto, is square, and
rested on the ground like a tower, covering her up to above her
shoulders; bearing on it a lion, and with broken heads of javelins
deeply infixed.

Among the Greeks, this is, of course, one of the principal virtues;
apt, however, in their ordinary conception of it to degenerate into mere
manliness or courage.

§ LXXX. _Third side._ Temperance; bearing a pitcher of water and a cup.
Inscription, illegible here, and on the Renaissance copy nearly so,
"TEMPERANTIA SUM" (INOM' L^s)? only left. In this somewhat vulgar and
most frequent conception of this virtue (afterwards continually
repeated, as by Sir Joshua in his window at New College) temperance is
confused with mere abstinence, the opposite of Gula, or gluttony;
whereas the Greek Temperance, a truly cardinal virtue, is the moderator
of _all_ the passions, and so represented by Giotto, who has placed a
bridle upon her lips, and a sword in her hand, the hilt of which she is
binding to the scabbard. In his system, she is opposed among the vices,
not by Gula or Gluttony, but by Ira, Anger. So also the Temperance of
Spenser, or Sir Guyon, but with mingling of much sternness:

  "A goodly knight, all armd in harnesse meete,
   That from his head no place appeared to his feete,
   His carriage was full comely and upright;
   His countenance demure and temperate;
   But yett so sterne and terrible in sight,
   That cheard his friendes, and did his foes amate."

The Temperance of the Greeks, [Greek: sôphrosynê], involves the idea of
Prudence, and is a most noble virtue, yet properly marked by Plato as
inferior to sacred enthusiasm, though necessary for its government. He
opposes it, under the name "Mortal Temperance" or "the Temperance which
is of men," to divine madness, [Greek: mania], or inspiration; but he
most justly and nobly expresses the general idea of it under the term
[Greek: hubris], which, in the "Phædrus," is divided into various
intemperances with respect to various objects, and set forth under the
image of a black, vicious, diseased and furious horse, yoked by the side
of Prudence or Wisdom (set forth under the figure of a white horse with
a crested and noble head, like that which we have among the Elgin
Marbles) to the chariot of the Soul. The system of Aristotle, as above
stated, is throughout a mere complicated blunder, supported by
sophistry, the laboriously developed mistake of Temperance for the
essence of the virtues which it guides. Temperance in the mediæval
systems is generally opposed by Anger, or by Folly, or Gluttony: but her
proper opposite is Spenser's Acrasia, the principal enemy of Sir Guyon,
at whose gates we find the subordinate vice "Excesse," as the
introduction to Intemperance; a graceful and feminine image, necessary
to illustrate the more dangerous forms of subtle intemperance, as
opposed to the brutal "Gluttony" in the first book. She presses grapes
into a cup, because of the words of St. Paul, "Be not drunk with wine,
wherein is excess;" but always delicately,

  "Into her cup she scruzd with daintie breach
   Of her fine fingers, without fowle empeach,
   That so faire winepresse made the wine more sweet."

The reader will, I trust, pardon these frequent extracts from Spenser,
for it is nearly as necessary to point out the profound divinity and
philosophy of our great English poet, as the beauty of the Ducal Palace.

§ LXXXI. _Fourth side._ Humility; with a veil upon her head, carrying a
lamp in her lap. Inscribed in the copy, "HUMILITAS HABITAT IN ME."

This virtue is of course a peculiarly Christian one, hardly recognized
in the Pagan systems, though carefully impressed upon the Greeks in
early life in a manner which at this day it would be well if we were to
imitate, and, together with an almost feminine modesty, giving an
exquisite grace to the conduct and bearing of the well-educated Greek
youth. It is, of course, one of the leading virtues in all the monkish
systems, but I have not any notes of the manner of its representation.

§ LXXXII. _Fifth side._ Charity. A woman with her lap full of loaves(?),
giving one to a child, who stretches his arm out for it across a broad
gap in the leafage of the capital.

Again very far inferior to the Giottesque rendering of this virtue. In
the Arena Chapel she is distinguished from all the other virtues by
having a circular glory round her head, and a cross of fire; she is
crowned with flowers, presents with her right hand a vase of corn and
fruit, and with her left receives treasure from Christ, who appears
above her, to provide her with the means of continual offices of
beneficence, while she tramples under foot the treasures of the earth.

The peculiar beauty of most of the Italian conceptions of Charity, is in
the subjection of mere munificence to the glowing of her love, always
represented by flames; here in the form of a cross round her head; in
Oreagna's shrine at Florence, issuing from a censer in her hand; and,
with Dante, inflaming her whole form, so that, in a furnace of clear
fire, she could not have been discerned.

Spenser represents her as a mother surrounded by happy children, an idea
afterwards grievously hackneyed and vulgarized by English painters and

§ LXXXIII. _Sixth side._ Justice. Crowned, and with sword. Inscribed in
the copy, "REX SUM JUSTICIE."

This idea was afterwards much amplified and adorned in the only good
capital of the Renaissance series, under the Judgment angle. Giotto has
also given his whole strength to the painting of this virtue,
representing her as enthroned under a noble Gothic canopy, holding
scales, not by the beam, but one in each hand; a beautiful idea, showing
that the equality of the scales of Justice is not owing to natural laws,
but to her own immediate weighing the opposed causes in her own hands.
In one scale is an executioner beheading a criminal; in the other an
angel crowning a man who seems (in Selvatico's plate) to have been
working at a desk or table.

Beneath her feet is a small predella, representing various persons
riding securely in the woods, and others dancing to the sound of music.

Spenser's Justice, Sir Artegall, is the hero of an entire book, and the
betrothed knight of Britomart, or chastity.

§ LXXXIV. _Seventh side._ Prudence. A man with a book and a pair of
compasses, wearing the noble cap, hanging down towards the shoulder, and
bound in a fillet round the brow, which occurs so frequently during the
fourteenth century in Italy in the portraits of men occupied in any
civil capacity.

This virtue is, as we have seen, conceived under very different degrees
of dignity, from mere worldly prudence up to heavenly wisdom, being
opposed sometimes by Stultitia, sometimes by Ignorantia. I do not find,
in any of the representations of her, that her truly distinctive
character, namely, _forethought_, is enough insisted upon: Giotto
expresses her vigilance and just measurement or estimate of all things
by painting her as Janus-headed, and gazing into a convex mirror, with
compasses in her right hand; the convex mirror showing her power of
looking at many things in small compass. But forethought or
anticipation, by which, independently of greater or less natural
capacities, one man becomes more _prudent_ than another, is never enough
considered or symbolized.

The idea of this virtue oscillates, in the Greek systems, between
Temperance and Heavenly Wisdom.

§ LXXXV. _Eighth side._ Hope. A figure full of devotional expression,
holding up its hands as in prayer, and looking to a hand which is
extended towards it out of sunbeams. In the Renaissance copy this hand
does not appear.

Of all the virtues, this is the most distinctively Christian (it could
not, of course, enter definitely into any Pagan scheme); and above all
others, it seems to me the _testing_ virtue,--that by the possession of
which we may most certainly determine whether we are Christians or not;
for many men have charity, that is to say, general kindness of heart, or
even a kind of faith, who have not any habitual _hope_ of, or longing
for, heaven. The Hope of Giotto is represented as winged, rising in the
air, while an angel holds a crown before her. I do not know if Spenser
was the first to introduce our marine virtue, leaning on an anchor, a
symbol as inaccurate as it is vulgar: for, in the first place, anchors
are not for men, but for ships; and in the second, anchorage is the
characteristic not of Hope, but of Faith. Faith is dependent, but Hope
is aspirant. Spenser, however, introduces Hope twice,--the first time as
the Virtue with the anchor; but afterwards fallacious Hope, far more
beautifully, in the Masque of Cupid:

  "She always smyld, and in her hand did hold
   An holy-water sprinckle, dipt in deowe."

§ LXXXVI. Tenth Capital. _First side._ Luxury (the opposite of chastity,
as above explained). A woman with a jewelled chain across her forehead,
smiling as she looks into a mirror, exposing her breast by drawing down
her dress with one hand. Inscribed "LUXURIA SUM IMENSA."

These subordinate forms of vice are not met with so frequently in art as
those of the opposite virtues, but in Spenser we find them all. His
Luxury rides upon a goat:

  "In a greene gowne he clothed was full faire,
   Which underneath did hide his filthinesse,
   And in his hand a burning hart he bare."

But, in fact, the proper and comprehensive expression of this vice is
the Cupid of the ancients; and there is not any minor circumstance more
indicative of the _intense_ difference between the mediæval and the
Renaissance spirit, than the mode in which this god is represented.

I have above said, that all great European art is rooted in the
thirteenth century; and it seems to me that there is a kind of central
year about which we may consider the energy of the middle ages to be
gathered; a kind of focus of time which, by what is to my mind a most
touching and impressive Divine appointment, has been marked for us by
the greatest writer of the middle ages, in the first words he utters;
namely, the year 1300, the "mezzo del cammin" of the life of Dante. Now,
therefore, to Giotto, the contemporary of Dante, and who drew Dante's
still existing portrait in this very year, 1300, we may always look for
the central mediæval idea in any subject: and observe how he represents
Cupid; as one of three, a terrible trinity, his companions being Satan
and Death; and he himself "a lean scarecrow, with bow, quiver, and
fillet, and feet ending in claws,"[155] thrust down into Hell by
Penance, from the presence of Purity and Fortitude. Spenser, who has
been so often noticed as furnishing the exactly intermediate type of
conception between the mediæval and the Renaissance, indeed represents
Cupid under the form of a beautiful winged god, and riding on a lion,
but still no plaything of the Graces, but full of terror:

  "With that the darts which his right hand did straine
   Full dreadfully he shooke, that all did quake,
   And clapt on hye his coloured winges twaine,
   That all his many it afraide did make."

His _many_, that is to say, his company; and observe what a company it
is. Before him go Fancy, Desire, Doubt, Danger, Fear, Fallacious Hope,
Dissemblance, Suspicion, Grief, Fury, Displeasure, Despite, and Cruelty.
After him, Reproach, Repentance, Shame,

  "Unquiet Care, and fond Unthriftyhead,
   Lewd Losse of Time, and Sorrow seeming dead,
   Inconstant Chaunge, and false Disloyalty,
   Consuming Riotise, and guilty Dread
   Of heavenly vengeaunce; faint Infirmity,
   Vile Poverty, and lastly Death with infamy."

Compare these two pictures of Cupid with the Love-god of the
Renaissance, as he is represented to this day, confused with angels, in
every faded form of ornament and allegory, in our furniture, our
literature, and our minds.

§ LXXXVII. _Second side._ Gluttony. A woman in a turban, with a jewelled
cup in her right hand. In her left, the clawed limb of a bird, which she
is gnawing. Inscribed "GULA SINE ORDINE SUM."

Spenser's Gluttony is more than usually fine:

  "His belly was upblowne with luxury,
   And eke with fatnesse swollen were his eyne,
   And like a crane his necke was long and fyne,
   Wherewith he swallowed up excessive feast,
   For want whereof poore people oft did pyne."

He rides upon a swine, and is clad in vine-leaves, with a garland of
ivy. Compare the account of Excesse, above, as opposed to Temperance.

§ LXXXVIII. _Third side._ Pride. A knight, with a heavy and stupid face,
holding a sword with three edges: his armor covered with ornaments in
the form of roses, and with two ears attached to his helmet. The
inscription indecipherable, all but "SUPERBIA."

Spenser has analyzed this vice with great care. He first represents it
as the Pride of life; that is to say, the pride which runs in a deep
under current through all the thoughts and acts of men. As such, it is a
feminine vice, directly opposed to Holiness, and mistress of a castle
called the House of Pryde, and her chariot is driven by Satan, with a
team of beasts, ridden by the mortal sins. In the throne chamber of her
palace she is thus described:

  "So proud she shyned in her princely state,
   Looking to Heaven, for Earth she did disdayne;
   And sitting high, for lowly she did hate:
   Lo, underneath her scornefull feete was layne
   A dreadfull dragon with an hideous trayne;
   And in her hand she held a mirrhour bright,
   Wherein her face she often vewed fayne"

The giant Orgoglio is a baser species of pride, born of the Earth and
Eolus; that is to say, of sensual and vain conceits. His foster-father
and the keeper of his castle is Ignorance. (Book I. canto VIII.)

Finally, Disdain is introduced, in other places, as the form of pride
which vents itself in insult to others.

§ LXXXIX. _Fourth side._ Anger. A woman tearing her dress open at her
breast. Inscription here undecipherable; but in the Renaissance copy it

Giotto represents this vice under the same symbol; but it is the weakest
of all the figures in the Arena Chapel. The "Wrath" of Spenser rides upon
a lion, brandishing a fire-brand, his garments stained with blood. Rage,
or Furor, occurs subordinately in other places. It appears to me very
strange that neither Giotto nor Spenser should have given any
representation of the _restrained_ Anger, which is infinitely the most
terrible; both of them make him violent.

§ XC. _Fifth side._ Avarice. An old woman with a veil over her forehead,
and a bag of money in each hand. A figure very marvellous for power of
expression. The throat is all made up of sinews with skinny channels
deep between them, strained as by anxiety, and wasted by famine; the
features hunger-bitten, the eyes hollow, the look glaring and intense,
yet without the slightest: caricature. Inscribed in the Renaissance

Spenser's Avarice (the vice) is much feebler than this; but the god
Mammon and his kingdom have been described by him with his usual power.
Note the position of the house of Richesse:

  "Betwixt them both was but a little stride,
   That did the House of Richesse from Hell-mouth divide."

It is curious that most moralists confuse avarice with covetousness,
although they are vices totally different in their operation on the
human heart, and on the frame of society. The love of money, the sin of
Judas and Ananias, is indeed the root of all evil in the hardening of
the heart; but "covetousness, which is idolatry," the sin of Ahab, that
is, the inordinate desire of some seen or recognized good,--thus
destroying peace of mind,--is probably productive of much more misery in
heart, and error in conduct, than avarice itself, only covetousness is
not so inconsistent with Christianity: for covetousness may partly
proceed from vividness of the affections and hopes, as in David, and be
consistent with, much charity; not so avarice.

§ XCI. _Sixth side_. Idleness. Accidia. A figure much broken away,
having had its arms round two branches of trees.

I do not know why Idleness should be represented as among trees, unless,
in the Italy of the fourteenth century, forest country was considered as
desert, and therefore the domain of Idleness. Spenser fastens this vice
especially upon the clergy,--

  "Upon a slouthfull asse he chose to ryde,
   Arayd in habit blacke, and amis thin,
   Like to an holy monck, the service to begin.
   And in his hand his portesse still he bare,
   That much was worne, but therein little redd."

And he properly makes him the leader of the train of the vices:

  "May seem the wayne was very evil ledd,
   When such an one had guiding of the way"

Observe that subtle touch of truth in the "wearing" of the portesse,
indicating the abuse of books by idle readers, so thoroughly
characteristic of unwilling studentship from the schoolboy upwards.

§ XCII. _Seventh side._ Vanity. She is smiling complacently as she looks
into a mirror in her lap. Her robe is embroidered with roses, and roses
form her crown. Undecipherable.

There is some confusion in the expression of this vice, between pride in
the personal appearance and lightness of purpose. The word Vanitas
generally, I think, bears, in the mediæval period, the sense given it in
Scripture. "Let not him that is deceived trust in Vanity, for Vanity
shall be his recompense." "Vanity of Vanities." "The Lord knoweth the
thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." It is difficult to find this
sin,--which, after Pride, is the most universal, perhaps the most fatal,
of all, fretting the whole depth of our humanity into storm "to waft a
feather or to drown a fly,"--definitely expressed in art. Even Spenser,
I think, has only partially expressed it under the figure of Phædria,
more properly Idle Mirth, in the second book. The idea is, however,
entirely worked out in the Vanity Fair of the "Pilgrim's Progress."

§ XCIII. _Eighth side._ Envy. One of the noblest pieces of expression in
the series. She is pointing malignantly with her finger; a serpent is
wreathed about her head like a cap, another forms the girdle of her
waist, and a dragon rests in her lap.

Giotto has, however, represented her, with still greater subtlety, as
having her fingers terminating in claws, and raising her right hand with
an expression partly of impotent regret, partly of involuntary grasping;
a serpent, issuing from her mouth, is about to bite her between the
eyes; she has long membranous ears, horns on her head, and flames
consuming her body. The Envy of Spenser is only inferior to that of
Giotto, because the idea of folly and quickness of hearing is not
suggested by the size of the ear: in other respects it is even finer,
joining the idea of fury, in the wolf on which he rides, with that of
corruption on his lips, and of discoloration or distortion in the whole

                   "Malicious Envy rode
  Upon a ravenous wolfe, and still did chaw
  Between his cankred teeth a venemous tode,
  That all the poison ran about his jaw.
  _All in a kirtle of discolourd say
  He clothed was, ypaynted full of eies_,
  And in his bosome secretly there lay
  An hatefull snake, the which his taile uptyes
  In many folds, and mortall sting implyes."

He has developed the idea in more detail, and still more loathsomely, in
the twelfth canto of the fifth book.

§ XCIV. ELEVENTH CAPITAL. Its decoration is composed of eight birds,
arranged as shown in Plate V. of the "Seven Lamps," which, however, was
sketched from the Renaissance copy. These birds are all varied in form
and action, but not so as to require special description.

§ XCV. TWELFTH CAPITAL. This has been very interesting, but is
grievously defaced, four of its figures being entirely broken away, and
the character of two others quite undecipherable. It is fortunate that
it has been copied in the thirty-third capital of the Renaissance
series, from which we are able to identify the lost figures.

_First side._ Misery. A man with a wan face, seemingly pleading with a
child who has its hands crossed on its breast. There is a buckle at his
own breast in the shape of a cloven heart. Inscribed "MISERIA."

The intention of this figure is not altogether apparent, as it is by no
means treated as a vice; the distress seeming real, and like that of a
parent in poverty mourning over his child. Yet it seems placed here as
in direct opposition to the virtue of Cheerfulness, which follows next
in order; rather, however, I believe, with the intention of illustrating
human life, than the character of the vice which, as we have seen, Dante
placed in the circle of hell. The word in that case would, I think, have
been "Tristitia," the "unholy Griefe" of Spenser--

          "All in sable sorrowfully clad,
  Downe hanging his dull head with heavy chere:

         *       *       *       *       *

  A pair of pincers in his hand he had,
  With which he pinched people to the heart."

He has farther amplified the idea under another figure in the fifth
canto of the fourth book:

  "His name was Care; a blacksmith by his trade,
   That neither day nor night from working spared;
   But to small purpose yron wedges made:
   Those be unquiet thoughts that carefull minds invade.
   Rude was his garment, and to rags all rent,
   Ne better had he, ne for better cared;
   With blistered hands among the cinders brent."

It is to be noticed, however, that in the Renaissance copy this figure
is stated to be, not Miseria, but "Misericordia." The contraction is a
very moderate one, Misericordia being in old MS. written always as
"Mia." If this reading be right, the figure is placed here rather as the
companion, than the opposite, of Cheerfulness; unless, indeed, it is
intended to unite the idea of Mercy and Compassion with that of Sacred

§ XCVI. _Second side._ Cheerfulness. A woman with long flowing hair,
crowned with roses, playing on a tambourine, and with open lips, as
singing. Inscribed " ALACRITAS."

We have already met with this virtue among those especially set by
Spenser to attend on Womanhood. It is inscribed in the Renaissance copy,
"ALACHRITAS CHANIT MECUM." Note the gutturals of the rich and fully
developed Venetian dialect now affecting the Latin, which is free from
them in the earlier capitals.

§ XCVII. _Third side._ Destroyed; but, from the copy, we find it has
been Stultitia, Folly; and it is there represented simply as a man
_riding_, a sculpture worth the consideration of the English residents
who bring their horses to Venice. Giotto gives Stultitia a feather, cap,
and club. In early manuscripts he is always eating with one hand, and
striking with the other; in later ones he has a cap and bells, or cap
crested with a cock's head, whence the word "coxcomb."

§ XCVIII. _Fourth side._ Destroyed, all but a book, which identifies it
with the "Celestial Chastity" of the Renaissance copy; there represented
as a woman pointing to a book (connecting the convent life with the
pursuit of literature?).

Spenser's Chastity, Britomart, is the most exquisitely wrought of all
his characters; but, as before noticed, she is not the Chastity of the
convent, but of wedded life.

§ XCIX. _Fifth side._ Only a scroll is left; but, from the copy, we find
it has been Honesty or Truth. Inscribed "HONESTATEM DILIGO." It is very
curious, that among all the Christian systems of the virtues which we
have examined, we should find this one in Venice only.

The Truth of Spenser, Una, is, after Chastity, the most exquisite
character in the "Faerie Queen."

§ C. _Sixth side._ Falsehood. An old woman leaning on a crutch; and
inscribed in the copy, "FALSITAS IN ME SEMPER EST." The Fidessa of
Spenser, the great enemy of Una, or Truth, is far more subtly conceived,
probably not without special reference to the Papal deceits. In her true
form she is a loathsome hag, but in her outward aspect,

  "A goodly lady, clad in scarlot red,
   Purfled with gold and pearle;...
   Her wanton palfrey all was overspred
   With tinsell trappings, woven like a wave,
   Whose bridle rung with golden bels and bosses brave."

Dante's Fraud, Geryon, is the finest personification of all, but the
description (Inferno, canto XVII.) is too long to be quoted.

§ CI. _Seventh side._ Injustice. An armed figure holding a halbert; so
also in the copy. The figure used by Giotto with the particular
intention of representing unjust government, is represented at the gate
of an embattled castle in a forest, between rocks, while various deeds
of violence are committed at his feet. Spenser's "Adicia" is a furious
hag, at last transformed into a tiger.

_Eighth side._ A man with a dagger looking sorrowfully at a child, who
turns its back to him. I cannot understand this figure. It is inscribed
in the copy, "ASTINECIA (Abstinentia?) OPITIMA."

§ CII. THIRTEENTH CAPITAL. It has lions' heads all round, coarsely cut.

FOURTEENTH CAPITAL. It has various animals, each sitting on its
haunches. Three dogs, one a greyhound, one long-haired, one short-haired
with bells about its neck; two monkeys, one with fan-shaped hair
projecting on each side of its face; a noble boar, with its tusks,
hoofs, and bristles sharply cut; and a lion and lioness.

§ CIII. FIFTEENTH CAPITAL. The pillar to which it belongs is thicker
than the rest, as well as the one over it in the upper arcade.

The sculpture of this capital is also much coarser, and seems to me
later than that of the rest; and it has no inscription, which is
embarrassing, as its subjects have had much meaning; but I believe
Selvatico is right in supposing it to have been intended for a general
illustration of Idleness.

_First side._ A woman with a distaff; her girdle richly decorated, and
fastened by a buckle.

_Second side._ A youth in a long mantle, with a rose in his hand.

_Third side._ A woman in a turban stroking a puppy which she holds by
the haunches.

_Fourth side._ A man with a parrot.

_Fifth side._ A woman in very rich costume, with braided hair, and dress
thrown into minute folds, holding a rosary(?) in her left hand, her
right on her breast.

_Sixth side._ A man with a very thoughtful face, laying his hand upon
the leaves of the capital.

_Seventh side._ A crowned lady, with a rose in her hand.

_Eighth side._ A boy with a ball in his left hand, and his right laid on
his breast.

§ CIV. SIXTEENTH CAPITAL. It is decorated with eight large heads, partly
intended to be grotesque,[156] and very coarse and bad, except only
that in the sixth side, which is totally different from all the rest,
and looks like a portrait. It is thin, thoughtful, and dignified;
thoroughly fine in every way. It wears a cap surmounted by two winged
lions; and, therefore, I think Selvatico must have inaccurately written
the list given in the note, for this head is certainly meant to express
the superiority of the Venetian character over that of other nations.
Nothing is more remarkable in all early sculpture, than its appreciation
of the signs of dignity of character in the features, and the way in
which it can exalt the principal figure in any subject by a few touches.

§ CV. SEVENTEENTH CAPITAL. This has been so destroyed by the sea wind,
which sweeps at this point of the arcade round the angle of the palace,
that its inscriptions are no longer legible, and great part of its
figures are gone. Selvatico states them as follows: Solomon, the wise;
Priscian, the grammarian; Aristotle, the logician; Tully, the orator;
Pythagoras, the philosopher; Archimedes, the mechanic; Orpheus, the
musician; Ptolemy, the astronomer. The fragments actually remaining are
the following:

_First side._ A figure with two books, in a robe richly decorated with
circles of roses. Inscribed "SALOMON (SAP)IENS."

_Second side._ A man with one book, poring over it: he has had a long
stick or reed in his hand. Of inscription only the letters "GRAMMATIC"

_Third side._ "ARISTOTLE:" so inscribed. He has a peaked double beard
and a flat cap, from under which his long hair falls down his back.

_Fourth side._ Destroyed.

_Fifth side._ Destroyed, all but a board with three (counters?) on it.

_Sixth side._ A figure with compasses. Inscribed "GEOMET * *"

_Seventh side._ Nothing is left but a guitar with its handle wrought
into a lion's head.

_Eighth side._ Destroyed.

§ CVI. We have now arrived at the EIGHTEENTH CAPITAL, the most
interesting and beautiful of the palace. It represents the planets, and
the sun and moon, in those divisions of the zodiac known to astrologers
as their "houses;" and perhaps indicates, by the position in which they
are placed, the period of the year at which this great corner-stone was
laid. The inscriptions above have been in quaint Latin rhyme, but are
now decipherable only in fragments, and that with the more difficulty
because the rusty iron bar that binds the abacus has broken away, in its
expansion, nearly all the upper portions of the stone, and with them the
signs of contraction, which are of great importance. I shall give the
fragments of them that I could decipher; first as the letters actually
stand (putting those of which I am doubtful in brackets, with a note of
interrogation), and then as I would read them.

§ CVII. It should be premised that, in modern astrology, the houses of
the planets are thus arranged:

  The house of the Sun,      is Leo.
        "          Moon,     "  Cancer.
        "       of Mars,     "  Aries and Scorpio.
        "          Venus,    "  Taurus and Libra.
        "          Mercury,  "  Gemini and Virgo.
        "          Jupiter,  "  Sagittarius and Pisces.
        "          Saturn,   "  Capricorn.
        "          Herschel, "  Aquarius.

The Herschel planet being of course unknown to the old astrologers, we
have only the other six planetary powers, together with the sun; and
Aquarius is assigned to Saturn as his house. I could not find Capricorn
at all; but this sign may have been broken away, as the whole capital is
grievously defaced. The eighth side of the capital, which the Herschel
planet would now have occupied, bears a sculpture of the Creation of
Man: it is the most conspicuous side, the one set diagonally across the
angle; or the eighth in our usual mode of reading the capitals, from
which I shall not depart.

§ CVIII. _The first side_, then, or that towards the Sea, has Aquarius,
as the house of Saturn, represented as a seated figure beautifully
draped, pouring a stream of water out of an amphora over the leaves of
the capital. His inscription is:


§ CIX. _Second side._ Jupiter, in his houses Sagittarius and Pisces,
represented throned, with an upper dress disposed in radiating folds
about his neck, and hanging down upon his breast, ornamented by small
pendent trefoiled studs or bosses. He wears the drooping bonnet and long
gloves; but the folds about the neck, shot forth to express the rays of
the star, are the most remarkable characteristic of the figure. He
raises his sceptre in his left hand over Sagittarius, represented as the
centaur Chiron; and holds two thunnies in his right. Something rough,
like a third fish, has been broken away below them; the more easily
because this part of the group is entirely undercut, and the two fish
glitter in the light, relieved on the deep gloom below the leaves. The
inscription is:



  "Inde Jovis dona
   Pisces simul atque Chirona."

Domus is, I suppose, to be understood before Jovis: "Then the house of
Jupiter gives (or governs?) the fishes and Chiron."

§ CX. _Third side._ Mars, in his houses Aries and Scorpio. Represented
as a very ugly knight in chain mail, seated sideways on the ram, whose
horns are broken away, and having a large scorpion in his left hand,
whose tail is broken also, to the infinite injury of the group, for it
seems to have curled across to the angle leaf, and formed a bright line
of light, like the fish in the hand of Jupiter. The knight carries a
shield, on which fire and water are sculptured, and bears a banner upon
his lance, with the word "DEFEROSUM," which puzzled me for some time. It
should be read, I believe, "De ferro sum;" which would be good
_Venetian_ Latin for "I am of iron."

§ CXI. _Fourth side._ The Sun, in his house Leo. Represented under the
figure of Apollo, sitting on the Lion, with rays shooting from his head,
and the world in his hand. The inscription:


I believe the first phrase is, "Tunc est Domus solis;" but there is a
letter gone after the "quo," and I have no idea what case of signum
"signe" stands for.

§ CXII. _Fifth side._ Venus, in her houses Taurus and Libra. The most
beautiful figure of the series. She sits upon the bull, who is deep in
the dewlap, and better cut than most of the animals, holding a mirror in
her right hand, and the scales in her left. Her breast is very nobly and
tenderly indicated under the folds of her drapery, which is exquisitely
studied in its fall. What is left of the inscription, runs:


§ CXIII. _Sixth side._ Mercury, represented as wearing a pendent cap,
and holding a book: he is supported by three children in reclining
attitudes, representing his houses Gemini and Virgo. But I cannot
understand the inscription, though more than usually legible.


§ CXIV. _Seventh side._ The Moon, in her house Cancer. This sculpture,
which is turned towards the Piazzetta, is the most picturesque of the
series. The moon is represented as a woman in a boat, upon the sea, who
raises the crescent in her right hand, and with her left draws a crab
out of the waves, up the boat's side. The moon was, I believe,
represented in Egyptian sculptures as in a boat; but I rather think the
Venetian was not aware of this, and that he meant to express the
peculiar sweetness of the moonlight at Venice, as seen across the
lagoons. Whether this was intended by putting the planet in the boat,
may be questionable, but assuredly the idea was meant to be conveyed by
the dress of the figure. For all the draperies of the other figures on
this capital, as well as on the rest of the façade, are disposed in
severe but full folds, showing little of the forms beneath them; but the
moon's drapery _ripples_ down to her feet, so as exactly to suggest the
trembling of the moonlight on the waves. This beautiful idea is highly
characteristic of the thoughtfulness of the early sculptors: five
hundred men may be now found who could have cut the drapery, as such,
far better, for one who would have disposed its folds with this
intention. The inscription is:


§ CXV. _Eighth side._ God creating Man. Represented as a throned figure,
with a glory round the head, laying his left hand on the head of a naked
youth, and sustaining him with his right hand. The inscription puzzled
me for a long time; but except the lost r and m of "formavit," and a
letter quite undefaced, but to me unintelligible, before the word Eva,
in the shape of a figure of 7, I have safely ascertained the rest.



    "De limo Dominus Adam, de costa fo(rm) avit Evam;"
  From the dust the Lord made Adam, and from the rib Eve.

I imagine the whole of this capital, therefore--the principal one of the
old palace,--to have been intended to signify, first, the formation of
the planets for the service of man upon the earth; secondly, the entire
subjection of the fates and fortune of man to the will of God, as
determined from the time when the earth and stars were made, and, in
fact, written in the volume of the stars themselves.

Thus interpreted, the doctrines of judicial astrology were not only
consistent with, but an aid to, the most spiritual and humble

In the workmanship and grouping of its foliage, this capital is, on the
whole, the finest I know in Europe. The sculptor has put his whole
strength into it. I trust that it will appear among the other Venetian
casts lately taken for the Crystal Palace; but if not, I have myself
cast all its figures, and two of its leaves, and I intend to give
drawings of them on a large scale in my folio work.

§ CXVI. NINETEENTH CAPITAL. This is, of course, the second counting from
the Sea, on the Piazzetta side of the palace, calling that of the
Fig-tree angle the first.

It is the most important capital, as a piece of evidence in point of
dates, in the whole palace. Great pains have been taken with it, and in
some portion of the accompanying furniture or ornaments of each of its
figures a small piece of colored marble has been inlaid, with peculiar
significance: for the capital represents the _arts of sculpture and
architecture_; and the inlaying of the colored stones (which are far too
small to be effective at a distance, and are found in this one capital
only of the whole series) is merely an expression of the architect's
feeling of the essential importance of this art of inlaying, and of the
value of color generally in his own art.

§ CXVII. _First side._ "ST. SIMPLICIUS": so inscribed. A figure working
with a pointed chisel on a small oblong block of green serpentine, about
four inches long by one wide, inlaid in the capital. The chisel is, of
course, in the left hand, but the right is held up open, with the palm

_Second side._ A crowned figure, carving the image of a child on a small
statue, with a ground of red marble. The sculptured figure is highly
finished, and is in type of head much like the Ham or Japheth at the
Vine angle. Inscription effaced.

_Third side._ An old man, uncrowned, but with curling hair, at work on a
small column, with its capital complete, and a little shaft of dark red
marble, spotted with paler red. The capital is precisely of the form of
that found in the palace of the Tiepolos and the other thirteenth
century work of Venice. This one figure would be quite enough, without
any other evidence whatever, to determine the date of this flank of the
Ducal Palace as not later, at all events, than the first half of the
fourteenth century. Its inscription is broken away, all but "DISIPULO."

_Fourth side._ A crowned figure; but the object on which it has been
working is broken away, and all the inscription except "ST. E(N?)AS."

_Fifth side._ A man with a turban, and a sharp chisel, at work on a kind
of panel or niche, the back of which is of red marble.

_Sixth side._ A crowned figure, with hammer and chisel, employed _on a
little range of windows of the fifth order_, having roses set, instead
of orbicular ornaments, between the spandrils, with a rich cornice, and
a band of marble inserted above. This sculpture assures us of the date
of the fifth order window, which it shows to have been universal in the
early fourteenth century.

There are also five arches in the block on which the sculptor is
working, marking the frequency of the number five in the window groups
of the time.

_Seventh side._ A figure at work on a pilaster, with Lombardic
thirteenth century capital (for account of the series of forms in
Venetian capitals, see the final Appendix of the next volume), the shaft
of dark red spotted marble.

_Eighth side._ A figure with a rich open crown, working on a delicate
recumbent statue, the head of which is laid on a pillow covered with a
rich chequer pattern; the whole supported on a block of dark red marble.
Inscription broken away, all but "ST. SYM. (Symmachus?) TV * * ANVS."
There appear, therefore, altogether to have been five saints, two of
them popes, if Simplicius is the pope of that name (three in front, two
on the fourth and sixth sides), alternating with the three uncrowned
workmen in the manual labor of sculpture. I did not, therefore, insult
our present architects in saying above that they "ought to work in the
mason's yard with their men." It would be difficult to find a more
interesting expression of the devotional spirit in which all great work
was undertaken at this time.

§ CXVIII. TWENTIETH CAPITAL. It is adorned with heads of animals, and is
the finest of the whole series in the broad massiveness of its effect;
so simply characteristic, indeed, of the grandeur of style in the
entire building, that I chose it for the first Plate in my folio work.
In spite of the sternness of its plan, however, it is wrought with great
care in surface detail; and the ornamental value of the minute chasing
obtained by the delicate plumage of the birds, and the clustered bees on
the honeycomb in the bear's mouth, opposed to the strong simplicity of
its general form, cannot be too much admired. There are also more grace,
life, and variety in the sprays of foliage on each side of it, and under
the heads, than in any other capital of the series, though the earliness
of the workmanship is marked by considerable hardness and coldness in
the larger heads. A Northern Gothic workman, better acquainted with
bears and wolves than it was possible to become in St. Mark's Place,
would have put far more life into these heads, but he could not have
composed them more skilfully.

§ CXIX. _First side._ A lion with a stag's haunch in his mouth. Those
readers who have the folio plate, should observe the peculiar way in
which the ear is cut into the shape of a ring, jagged or furrowed on the
edge; an archaic mode of treatment peculiar, in the Ducal Palace, to the
lions' heads of the fourteenth century. The moment we reach the
Renaissance work, the lions' ears are smooth. Inscribed simply, "LEO."

_Second side._ A wolf with a dead bird in his mouth, its body
wonderfully true in expression of the passiveness of death. The feathers
are each wrought with a central quill and radiating filaments. Inscribed

_Third side._ A fox, not at all like one, with a dead cock in his mouth,
its comb and pendent neck admirably designed so as to fall across the
great angle leaf of the capital, its tail hanging down on the other
side, its long straight feathers exquisitely cut. Inscribed "(VULP?)IS."

_Fourth side._ Entirely broken away.

_Fifth side_. "APER." Well tusked, with a head of maize in his mouth; at
least I suppose it to be maize, though shaped like a pine-cone.

_Sixth side._ "CHANIS." With a bone, very ill cut; and a bald-headed
species of dog, with ugly flap ears.

_Seventh side._ "MUSCIPULUS." With a rat (?) in his mouth.

_Eighth side._ "URSUS." With a honeycomb, covered with large bees.

§ CXX. TWENTY-FIRST CAPITAL. Represents the principal inferior

_First side._ An old man, with his brow deeply wrinkled, and very
expressive features, beating in a kind of mortar with a hammer.
Inscribed "LAPICIDA SUM."

_Second side._ I believe, a goldsmith; he is striking a small flat bowl
or patera, on a pointed anvil, with a light hammer. The inscription is

_Third side._ A shoemaker with a shoe in his hand, and an instrument for
cutting leather suspended beside him. Inscription undecipherable.

_Fourth side._ Much broken. A carpenter planing a beam resting on two
horizontal logs. Inscribed "CARPENTARIUS SUM."

_Fifth side._ A figure shovelling fruit into a tub; the latter very
carefully carved from what appears to have been an excellent piece of
cooperage. Two thin laths cross each other over the top of it. The
inscription, now lost, was, according to Selvatico, "MENSURATOR"?

_Sixth side._ A man, with a large hoe, breaking the ground, which lies
in irregular furrows and clods before him. Now undecipherable, but
according to Selvatico, "AGRICHOLA."

_Seventh side._ A man, in a pendent cap, writing on a large scroll which
falls over his knee. Inscribed "NOTARIUS SUM."

_Eighth side._ A man forging a sword, or scythe-blade: he wears a large
skull-cap; beats with a large hammer on a solid anvil; and is inscribed

§ CXXI. TWENTY-SECOND CAPITAL. The Ages of Man; and the influence of the
planets on human life.

_First side._ The moon, governing infancy for four years, according to
Selvatico. I have no note of this side, having, I suppose, been
prevented from raising the ladder against it by some fruit-stall or
other impediment in the regular course of my examination; and then
forgotten to return to it.

_Second side._ A child with a tablet, and an alphabet inscribed on it.
The legend above is


Or, "Mercurius dominatur pueritiæ per annos X." (Selvatico reads VII.)
"Mercury governs boyhood for ten (or seven) years."

_Third side._ An older youth, with another tablet, but broken. Inscribed


Selvatico misses this side altogether, as I did the first, so that the
lost planet is irrecoverable, as the inscription is now defaced. Note
the o for e in adolescentia; so also we constantly find u for o;
showing, together with much other incontestable evidence of the same
kind, how full and deep the old pronunciation of Latin always remained,
and how ridiculous our English mincing of the vowels would have sounded
to a Roman ear.

_Fourth side._ A youth with a hawk on his fist.

  The son governs youth for nineteen years.

_Fifth side._ A man sitting, helmed, with a sword over his shoulder.

  Mars governs manhood for fifteen years.

_Sixth side._ A very graceful and serene figure, in the pendent cap,

  Jupiter governs age for twelve years.

_Seventh side._ An old man in a skull-cap, praying.

  "DECREPITE DNT SATN UQ^s ADMOTE." (Saturnus usque ad mortem.)
             Saturn governs decrepitude until death.

_Eighth side._ The dead body lying on a mattress.

  Last comes death, the penalty of sin.

§ CXXII. Shakspeare's Seven Ages are of course merely the expression of
this early and well known system. He has deprived the dotage of its
devotion; but I think wisely, as the Italian system would imply that
devotion was, or should be, always delayed until dotage.

TWENTY-THIRD CAPITAL. I agree with Selvatico in thinking this has been
restored. It is decorated with large and vulgar heads.

§ CXXIII. TWENTY-FOURTH CAPITAL. This belongs to the large shaft which
sustains the great party wall of the Sala del Gran Consiglio. The shaft
is thicker than the rest; but the capital, though ancient, is coarse and
somewhat inferior in design to the others of the series. It represents
the history of marriage: the lover first seeing his mistress at a
window, then addressing her, bringing her presents; then the bridal, the
birth and the death of a child. But I have not been able to examine
these sculptures properly, because the pillar is encumbered by the
railing which surrounds the two guns set before the Austrian

§ CXXIV. TWENTY-FIFTH CAPITAL. We have here the employments of the
months, with which we are already tolerably acquainted. There are,
however, one or two varieties worth noticing in this series.

_First side._ March. Sitting triumphantly in a rich dress, as the
beginning of the year.

_Second side._ April and May. April with a lamb: May with a feather fan
in her hand.

_Third side._ June. Carrying cherries in a basket.

I did not give this series with the others in the previous chapter,
because this representation of June is peculiarly Venetian. It is called
"the month of cherries," mese delle ceriese, in the popular rhyme on the
conspiracy of Tiepolo, quoted above, Vol. I.

The cherries principally grown near Venice are of a deep red color, and
large, but not of high flavor, though refreshing. They are carved upon
the pillar with great care, all their stalks undercut.

_Fourth side._ July and August. The first reaping; the _leaves_ of the
straw being given, shooting out from the tubular stalk. August,
opposite, beats (the grain?) in a basket.

_Fifth side._ September. A woman standing in a wine-tub, and holding a
branch of vine. Very beautiful.

_Sixth side._ October and November. I could not make out their
occupation; they seem to be roasting or boiling some root over a fire.

_Seventh side._ December. Killing pigs, as usual.

_Eighth side._ January warming his feet, and February frying fish. This
last employment is again as characteristic of the Venetian winter as the
cherries are of the Venetian summer.

The inscriptions are undecipherable, except a few letters here and
there, and the words MARCIUS, APRILIS, and FEBRUARIUS.

This is the last of the capitals of the early palace; the next, or
twenty-sixth capital, is the first of those executed in the fifteenth
century under Foscari; and hence to the Judgment angle the traveller has
nothing to do but to compare the base copies of the earlier work with
their originals, or to observe the total want of invention in the
Renaissance sculptor, wherever he has depended on his own resources.
This, however, always with the exception of the twenty-seventh and of
the last capital, which are both fine.

I shall merely enumerate the subjects and point out the plagiarisms of
these capitals, as they are not worth description.

§ CXXV. TWENTY-SIXTH CAPITAL. Copied from the fifteenth, merely changing
the succession of the figures.

TWENTY-SEVENTH CAPITAL. I think it possible that this may be part of the
old work displaced in joining the new palace with the old; at all
events, it is well designed, though a little coarse. It represents eight
different kinds of fruit, each in a basket; the characters well given,
and groups well arranged, but without much care or finish. The names are
inscribed above, though somewhat unnecessarily, and with certainly as
much disrespect to the beholder's intelligence as the sculptor's art,
Zerexis (cherries) and Zuche (gourds) both begin with the same letter,
whether meant for z, s, or c I am not sure. The Zuche are the common
gourds, divided into two protuberances, one larger than the other, like
a bottle compresed near the neck; and the Moloni are the long
water-melons, which, roasted, form a staple food of the Venetians to
this day.

§ CXXVI. TWENTY-EIGHTH CAPITAL. Copied from the seventh.

TWENTY-NINTH CAPITAL. Copied from the ninth.

THIRTIETH CAPITAL. Copied from the tenth. The "Accidia" is noticeable as
having the inscription complete, "ACCIDIA ME STRINGIT;" and the
"Luxuria" for its utter want of expression, having a severe and calm
face, a robe up to the neck, and her hand upon her breast. The
inscription is also different: "LUXURIA SUM STERC^S (?) INFERI" (?).

THIRTY-FIRST CAPITAL. Copied from the eighth.

THIRTY-SECOND CAPITAL. Has no inscription, only fully robed figures
laying their hands, without any meaning, on their own shoulders, heads,
or chins, or on the leaves around them.

THIRTY-THIRD CAPITAL. Copied from the twelfth.

THIRTY-FOURTH CAPITAL. Copied from the eleventh.

THIRTY-FIFTH CAPITAL. Has children, with birds or fruit, pretty in
features, and utterly inexpressive, like the cherubs of the eighteenth

§ CXXVII. THIRTY-SIXTH CAPITAL. This is the last of the Piazzetta
façade, the elaborate one under the Judgment angle. Its foliage is
copied from the eighteenth at the opposite side, with an endeavor on the
part of the Renaissance sculptor to refine upon it, by which he has
merely lost some of its truth and force. This capital will, however, be
always thought, at first, the most beautiful of the whole series: and
indeed it is very noble; its groups of figures most carefully studied,
very graceful, and much more pleasing than those of the earlier work,
though with less real power in them; and its foliage is only inferior to
that of the magnificent Fig-tree angle. It represents, on its front or
first side, Justice enthroned, seated on two lions; and on the seven
other sides examples of acts of justice or good government, or figures
of lawgivers, in the following order:

_Second side._ Aristotle, with two pupils, giving laws. Inscribed:

   Aristotle who declares laws.

_Third side._ I have mislaid my note of this side: Selvatico and Lazari
call it "Isidore" (?).[158]

_Fourth side._ Solon with his pupils. Inscribed:

   Solon, one of the seven sages of Greece, who declares laws.

Note, by the by, the pure Venetian dialect used in this capital, instead
of the Latin in the more ancient ones. One of the seated pupils in this
sculpture is remarkably beautiful in the sweep of his flowing drapery.

_Fifth side._ The chastity of Scipio. Inscribed:

  "ISIPIONE A CHASTITA CH * * * E LA FIA (e la figlia?) * * ARE."

A soldier in a plumed bonnet presents a kneeling maiden to the seated
Scipio, who turns thoughtfully away.

_Sixth side._ Numa Pompilius building churches.


Numa, in a kind of hat with a crown above it, directing a soldier in
Roman armor (note this, as contrasted with the mail of the earlier
capitals). They point to a tower of three stories filled with tracery.

_Seventh side._ Moses receiving the law. Inscribed:


Moses kneels on a rock, whence springs a beautifully fancied tree, with
clusters of three berries in the centre of three leaves, sharp and
quaint, like fine Northern Gothic. The half figure of the Deity comes
out of the abacus, the arm meeting that of Moses, both at full stretch,
with the stone tablets between.

_Eighth side._ Trajan doing justice to the Widow.


He is riding spiritedly, his mantle blown out behind: the widow kneeling
before his horse.

§ CXXVIII. The reader will observe that this capital is of peculiar
interest in its relation to the much disputed question of the character
of the later government of Venice. It is the assertion by that
government of its belief that Justice only could be the foundation of
its stability; as these stones of Justice and Judgment are the
foundation of its halls of council. And this profession of their faith
may be interpreted in two ways. Most modern historians would call it, in
common with the continual reference to the principles of justice in the
political and judicial language of the period,[159] nothing more than a
cloak for consummate violence and guilt; and it may easily be proved to
have been so in myriads of instances. But in the main, I believe the
expression of feeling to be genuine. I do not believe, of the majority
of the leading Venetians of this period whose portraits have come down
to us, that they were deliberately and everlastingly hypocrites. I see
no hypocrisy in their countenances. Much capacity of it, much subtlety,
much natural and acquired reserve; but no meanness. On the contrary,
infinite grandeur, repose, courage, and the peculiar unity and
tranquillity of expression which come of sincerity or _wholeness_ of
heart, and which it would take much demonstration to make me believe
could by any possibility be seen on the countenance of an insincere man.
I trust, therefore, that these Venetian nobles of the fifteenth century
did, in the main, desire to do judgment and justice to all men; but, as
the whole system of morality had been by this time undermined by the
teaching of the Romish Church, the idea of justice had become separated
from that of truth, so that dissimulation in the interest of the state
assumed the aspect of duty. We had, perhaps, better consider, with some
carefulness, the mode in which our own government is carried on, and the
occasional difference between parliamentary and private morality, before
we judge mercilessly of the Venetians in this respect. The secrecy with
which their political and criminal trials were conducted, appears to
modern eyes like a confession of sinister intentions; but may it not
also be considered, and with more probability, as the result of an
endeavor to do justice in an age of violence?--the only means by which
Law could establish its footing in the midst of feudalism. Might not
Irish juries at this day justifiably desire to conduct their proceedings
with some greater approximation to the judicial principles of the
Council of Ten? Finally, if we examine, with critical accuracy, the
evidence on which our present impressions of Venetian government are
founded, we shall discover, in the first place, that two-thirds of the
traditions of its cruelties are romantic fables: in the second, that the
crimes of which it can be proved to have been guilty, differ only from
those committed by the other Italian powers in being done less wantonly,
and under profounder conviction of their political expediency: and
lastly, that the final degradation of the Venetian power appears owing
not so much to the principles of its government, as to their being
forgotten in the pursuit of pleasure.

§ CXXIX. We have now examined the portions of the palace which contain
the principal evidence of the feeling of its builders. The capitals of
the upper arcade are exceedingly various in their character; their
design is formed, as in the lower series, of eight leaves, thrown into
volutes at the angles, and sustaining figures at the flanks; but these
figures have no inscriptions, and though evidently not without meaning,
cannot be interpreted without more knowledge than I possess of ancient
symbolism. Many of the capitals toward the Sea appear to have been
restored, and to be rude copies of the ancient ones; others, though
apparently original, have been somewhat carelessly wrought; but those of
them, which are both genuine and carefully treated, are even finer in
composition than any, except the eighteenth, in the lower arcade. The
traveller in Venice ought to ascend into the corridor, and examine with
great care the series of capitals which extend on the Piazzetta side
from the Fig-tree angle to the pilaster which carries the party wall of
the Sala del Gran Consiglio. As examples of graceful composition in
massy capitals meant for hard service and distant effect, these are
among the finest things I know in Gothic art; and that above the
fig-tree is remarkable for its sculptures of the four winds; each on the
side turned towards the wind represented. Levante, the east wind; a
figure with rays round its head, to show that it is always clear weather
when that wind blows, raising the sun out of the sea: Hotro, the south
wind; crowned, holding the sun in its right hand; Ponente, the west
wind; plunging the sun into the sea: and Tramontana, the north wind;
looking up at the north star. This capital should be carefully examined,
if for no other reason than to attach greater distinctness of idea to
the magnificent verbiage of Milton:

                "Thwart of these, as fierce,
  Forth rush the Levant and the Ponent winds,
  Eurus, and Zephyr; with their lateral noise,
  Sirocco and Libecchio."

I may also especially point out the bird feeding its three young ones on
the seventh pillar on the Piazzetta side; but there is no end to the
fantasy of these sculptures; and the traveller ought to observe them all
carefully, until he comes to the great Pilaster or complicated pier
which sustains the party wall of the Sala del Consiglio; that is to say,
the forty-seventh capital of the whole series, counting from the
pilaster of the Vine angle inclusive, as in the series of the lower
arcade. The forty-eighth, forty-ninth, and fiftieth are bad work, but
they are old; the fifty-first is the first Renaissance capital of the
upper arcade: the first new lion's head with smooth ears, cut in the
time of Foscari, is over the fiftieth capital; and that capital, with
its shaft, stands on the apex of the eighth arch from the Sea, on the
Piazzetta side, of which one spandril is masonry of the fourteenth and
the other of the fifteenth century.

§ CXXX. The reader who is not able to examine the building on the spot
may be surprised at the definiteness with which the point of junction is
ascertainable; but a glance at the lowest range of leaves in the
opposite Plate (XX.) will enable him to judge of the grounds on which
the above statement is made. Fig. 12 is a cluster of leaves from the
capital of the Four Winds; early work of the finest time. Fig. 13 is a
leaf from the great Renaissance capital at the Judgment angle, worked in
imitation of the older leafage. Fig. 14 is a leaf from one of the
Renaissance capitals of the upper arcade, which are all worked in the
natural manner of the period. It will be seen that it requires no great
ingenuity to distinguish between such design as that of fig. 12 and that
of fig. 14.

[Illustration: Plate XX.

§ CXXXI. It is very possible that the reader may at first like fig. 14
the best. I shall endeavor, in the next chapter, to show why he should
not; but it must also be noted, that fig. 12 has lost, and fig. 14
gained, both largely, under the hands of the engraver. All the bluntness
and coarseness of feeling in the workmanship of fig. 14 have disappeared
on this small scale, and all the subtle refinements in the broad masses
of fig. 12 have vanished. They could not, indeed, be rendered in line
engraving, unless by the hand of Albert Durer; and I have, therefore,
abandoned, for the present, all endeavor to represent any more important
mass of the early sculpture of the Ducal Palace: but I trust that, in a
few months, casts of many portions will be within the reach of the
inhabitants of London, and that they will be able to judge for
themselves of their perfect, pure, unlabored naturalism; the freshness,
elasticity, and softness of their leafage, united with the most noble
symmetry and severe reserve,--no running to waste, no loose or
experimental lines, no extravagance, and no weakness. Their design is
always sternly architectural; there is none of the wildness or
redundance of natural vegetation, but there is all the strength,
freedom, and tossing flow of the breathing leaves, and all the
undulation of their surfaces, rippled, as they grew, by the summer
winds, as the sands are by the sea.

§ CXXXII. This early sculpture of the Ducal Palace, then, represents the
state of Gothic work in Venice at its central and proudest period, i.e.
circa 1350. After this time, all is decline,--of what nature and by what
steps, we shall inquire in the ensuing chapter; for as this
investigation, though still referring to Gothic architecture, introduces
us to the first symptoms of the Renaissance influence, I have considered
it as properly belonging to the third division of our subject.

§ CXXXIII. And as, under the shadow of these nodding leaves, we bid
farewell to the great Gothic spirit, here also we may cease our
examination of the details of the Ducal Palace; for above its upper
arcade there are only the four traceried windows,[160] and one or two of
the third order on the Rio Façade, which can be depended upon as
exhibiting the original workmanship of the older palace. I examined the
capitals of the four other windows on the façade, and of those on the
Piazzetta, one by one, with great care, and I found them all to be of
far inferior workmanship to those which retain their traceries: I
believe the stone framework of these windows must have been so cracked
and injured by the flames of the great fire, as to render it necessary
to replace it by new traceries; and that the present mouldings and
capitals are base imitations of the original ones. The traceries were at
first, however, restored in their complete form, as the holes for the
bolts which fastened the bases of their shafts are still to be seen in
the window-sills, as well as the marks of the inner mouldings on the
soffits. How much the stone facing of the façade, the parapets, and the
shafts and niches of the angles, retain of their original masonry, it is
also impossible to determine; but there is nothing in the workmanship
of any of them demanding especial notice; still less in the large
central windows on each façade, which are entirely of Renaissance
execution. All that is admirable in these portions of the building is
the disposition of their various parts and masses, which is without
doubt the same as in the original fabric, and calculated, when seen from
a distance, to produce the same impression.

§ CXXXIV. Not so in the interior. All vestige of the earlier modes of
decoration was here, of course, destroyed by the fires; and the severe
and religious work of Guariento and Bellini has been replaced by the
wildness of Tintoret and the luxury of Veronese. But in this case,
though widely different in temper, the art of the renewal was at least
intellectually as great as that which had perished: and though the halls
of the Ducal Palace are no more representative of the character of the
men by whom it was built, each of them is still a colossal casket of
priceless treasure; a treasure whose safety has till now depended on its
being despised, and which at this moment, and as I write, is piece by
piece being destroyed for ever.

§ CXXXV. The reader will forgive my quitting our more immediate subject,
in order briefly to explain the causes and the nature of this
destruction; for the matter is simply the most important of all that can
be brought under our present consideration respecting the state of art
in Europe.

The fact is, that the greater number of persons or societies throughout
Europe, whom wealth, or chance, or inheritance has put in possession of
valuable pictures, do not know a good picture from a bad one,[161] and
have no idea in what the value of a picture really consists. The
reputation of certain works is raised, partly by accident, partly by the
just testimony of artists, partly by the various and generally bad taste
of the public (no picture, that I know of, has ever, in modern times,
attained popularity, in the full sense of the term, without having some
exceedingly bad qualities mingled with its good ones), and when this
reputation has once been completely established, it little matters to
what state the picture may be reduced: few minds are so completely
devoid of imagination as to be unable to invest it with the beauties
which they have heard attributed to it.

§ CXXXVI. This being so, the pictures that are most valued are for the
most part those by masters of established renown, which are highly or
neatly finished, and of a size small enough to admit of their being
placed in galleries or saloons, so as to be made subjects of
ostentation, and to be easily seen by a crowd. For the support of the
fame and value of such pictures, little more is necessary than that they
should be kept bright, partly by cleaning, which is incipient
destruction, and partly by what is called "restoring," that is, painting
over, which is of course total destruction. Nearly all the gallery
pictures in modern Europe have been more or less destroyed by one or
other of these operations, generally exactly in proportion to the
estimation in which they are held; and as, originally, the smaller and
more highly finished works of any great master are usually his worst,
the contents of many of our most celebrated galleries are by this time,
in reality, of very small value indeed.

§ CXXXVII. On the other hand, the most precious works of any noble
painter are usually those which have been done quickly, and in the heat
of the first thought, on a large scale, for places where there was
little likelihood of their being well seen, or for patrons from whom
there was little prospect of rich remuneration. In general, the best
things are done in this way, or else in the enthusiasm and pride of
accomplishing some great purpose, such as painting a cathedral or a
camposanto from one end to the other, especially when the time has been
short, and circumstances disadvantageous.

§ CXXXVIII. Works thus executed are of course despised, on account of
their quantity, as well as their frequent slightness, in the places
where they exist; and they are too large to be portable, and too vast
and comprehensive to be read on the spot, in the hasty temper of the
present age. They are, therefore, almost universally neglected,
whitewashed by custodes, shot at by soldiers, suffered to drop from the
walls piecemeal in powder and rags by society in general; but, which is
an advantage more than counterbalancing all this evil, they are not
often "restored." What is left of them, however fragmentary, however
ruinous, however obscured and defiled, is almost always _the real
thing_; there are no fresh readings: and therefore the greatest
treasures of art which Europe at this moment possesses are pieces of old
plaster on ruinous brick walls, where the lizards burrow and bask, and
which few other living creatures ever approach; and torn sheets of dim
canvas, in waste corners of churches; and mildewed stains, in the shape
of human figures, on the walls of dark chambers, which now and then an
exploring traveller causes to be unlocked by their tottering custode,
looks hastily round, and retreats from in a weary satisfaction at his
accomplished duty.

§ CXXXIX. Many of the pictures on the ceilings and walls of the Ducal
Palace, by Paul Veronese and Tintoret, have been more or less reduced,
by neglect, to this condition. Unfortunately they are not altogether
without reputation, and their state has drawn the attention of the
Venetian authorities and academicians. It constantly happens, that
public bodies who will not pay five pounds to preserve a picture, will
pay fifty to repaint it:[162] and when I was at Venice in 1846, there
were two remedial operations carrying on, at one and the same time, in
the two buildings which contain the pictures of greatest value in the
city (as pieces of color, of greatest value in the world), curiously
illustrative of this peculiarity in human nature. Buckets were set on
the floor of the Scuola di San Rocco, in every shower, to catch the rain
which came through the pictures of Tintoret on the ceiling; while in the
Ducal Palace, those of Paul Veronese were themselves laid on the floor
to be repainted; and I was myself present at the re-illumination of the
breast of a white horse, with a brush, at the end of a stick five feet
long, luxuriously dipped in a common house-painter's vessel of paint.

This was, of course, a large picture. The process has already been
continued in an equally destructive, though somewhat more delicate
manner, over the whole of the humbler canvases on the ceiling of the
Sala del Gran Consiglio; and I heard it threatened when I was last in
Venice (1851-2) to the "Paradise" at its extremity, which is yet in
tolerable condition,--the largest work of Tintoret, and the most
wonderful piece of pure, manly, and masterly oil-painting in the world.

§ CXL. I leave these facts to the consideration of the European patrons
of art. Twenty years hence they will be acknowledged and regretted; at
present, I am well aware, that it is of little use to bring them
forward, except only to explain the present impossibility of stating
what pictures _are_, and what _were_, in the interior of the Ducal
Palace. I can only say, that in the winter of 1851, the "Paradise" of
Tintoret was still comparatively uninjured, and that the Camera di
Collegio, and its antechamber, and the Sala de' Pregadi were full of
pictures by Veronese and Tintoret, that made their walls as precious as
so many kingdoms; so precious indeed, and so full of majesty, that
sometimes when walking at evening on the Lido, whence the great chain of
the Alps, crested with silver clouds, might be seen rising above the
front of the Ducal Palace, I used to feel as much awe in gazing on the
building as on the hills, and could believe that God had done a greater
work in breathing into the narrowness of dust the mighty spirits by
whom its haughty walls had been raised, and its burning legends written,
than in lifting the rocks of granite higher than the clouds of heaven,
and veiling them with their various mantle of purple flower and shadowy


  [99] The reader will find it convenient to note the following
    editions of the printed books which have been principally consulted
    in the following inquiry. The numbers of the manuscripts referred to
    in the Marcian Library are given with the quotations.

      Sansovino.   Venetia Descritta. 4to, Venice, 1663.
      Sansovino.   Lettera intorno al Palazzo Ducale. 8vo, Venice, 1829.
      Temanza.   Antica Pianta di Venezia, with text. Venice, 1780.
      Cadorin.   Pareri di XV. Architetti. 8vo, Venice, 1838.
      Filiasi.   Memorie storiche. 8vo, Padua, 1811.
      Bettio.   Lettera discorsiva del Palazzo Ducale. 8vo, Venice, 1837.
      Selvatico.   Architettura di Venezia. 8vo, Venice, 1847.

  [100] The year commonly given is 810, as in the Savina Chronicle
    (Cod. Marcianus), p. 13. "Del 810 fece principiar el pallazzo Ducal
    nel luogo ditto Bruolo in confin di S. Moisè, et fece riedificar la
    isola di Eraclia." The Sagornin Chronicle gives 804; and Filiasi,
    vol. vi. chap. 1, corrects this date to 813.

  [101] "Ampliò la città, fornilla di casamenti, _e per il culto d'
    Iddio e l' amministrazione della giustizia_ eresse la cappella di S.
    Marco, e il palazzo di sua residenza."--Pareri, p. 120. Observe,
    that piety towards God, and justice towards man, have been at least
    the nominal purposes of every act and institution of ancient Venice.
    Compare also Temanza, p. 24. "Quello che abbiamo di certo si è che
    il suddetto Agnello lo incominciò da fondamenti, e cost pure la
    cappella ducale di S. Marco."

  [102] What I call the Sea, was called "the Grand Canal" by the
    Venetians, as well as the great water street of the city; but I
    prefer calling it "the Sea," in order to distinguish between that
    street and the broad water in front of the Ducal Palace, which,
    interrupted only by the island of San Giorgio, stretches for many
    miles to the south, and for more than two to the boundary of the
    Lido. It was the deeper channel, just in front of the Ducal Palace,
    continuing the line of the great water street itself which the
    Venetians spoke of as "the Grand Canal." The words of Sansovino are:
    "Fu cominciato dove si vede, vicino al ponte della paglia, et
    rispondente sul canal grande." Filiasi says simply: "The palace was
    built where it now is." "Il palazio fu fatto dove ora pure
    esiste."--Vol. iii. chap. 27. The Savina Chronicle, already quoted,
    says: "In the place called the Bruolo (or Broglio), that is to say,
    on the Piazzetta."

  [103] "Omni decoritate illius perlustrata."--Sagornino, quoted by
    Cadorin and Temanza.

  [104] There is an interesting account of this revolt in Monaci, p.
    68. Some historians speak of the palace as having been destroyed
    entirely; but, that it did not even need important restorations,
    appears from Sagornino's expression, quoted by Cadorin and Temanza.
    Speaking of the Doge Participazio, he says: "Qui Palatii hucusque
    manentis fuerit fabricator." The reparations of the palace are
    usually attributed to the successor of Candiano, Pietro Orseolo I.;
    but the legend, under the picture of that Doge in the Council
    Chamber, speaks only of his rebuilding St. Mark's, and "performing
    many miracles." His whole mind seems to have been occupied with
    ecclesiastical affairs; and his piety was finally manifested in a
    way somewhat startling to the state, by his absconding with a French
    priest to St. Michael's, in Gascony, and there becoming a monk. What
    repairs, therefore, were necessary to the Ducal Palace, were left to
    be undertaken by his son, Orseolo II., above named.

  [105] "Quam non modo marmoreo, verum aureo compsit
    ornamento."--_Temanza_, p. 25.

  [106] "L'anno 1106, uscito fuoco d'una casa privata, arse parte del
    palazzo."--_Sansovino_. Of the beneficial effect of these fires,
    vide Cadorin, p. 121, 123.

  [107] "Urbis situm, ædificiorum decorem, et regiminis æquitatem
    multipliciter commendavit."--_Cronaca Dandolo_, quoted by Cadorin.

  [108] "Non solamente rinovò il palazzo, ma lo aggrandì per ogni
    verso."--_Sansovino_. Zanotto quotes the Altinat Chronicle for
    account of these repairs.

  [109] "El palazzo che anco di mezzo se vede vecchio, per M.
    Sebastian Ziani fu fatto compir, come el se vede."--_Chronicle of
    Pietro Dolfino_, Cod. Ven. p. 47. This Chronicle is spoken of by
    Sansovino as "molto particolare e distinta."--_Sansovino, Venezia
    descritta_, p. 593.--It terminates in the year 1422.

  [110] See Vol. I. Appendix 3.

  [111] Vide Sansovino's enumeration of those who flourished in the
    reign of Gradenigo, p. 564.

  [112] Sansovino, 324, 1.

  [113] "1301 fu presa parte di fare una sala grande per la riduzione
    del gran consiglio, e fu fatta quella che ora si chiama dello
    Scrutinio."--_Cronaca Sivos_, quoted by Cadorin. There is another
    most interesting entry in the Chronicle of Magno, relating to this
    event; but the passage is so ill written, that I am not sure if I
    have deciphered it correctly:--"Del 1301 fu preso de fabrichar la
    sala fo ruina e fu fata (fatta) quella se adoperava a far el pregadi
    e fu adopera per far el Gran Consegio fin 1423, che fu anni 122."
    This last sentence, which is of great importance, is luckily
    unmistakable:--"The room was used for the meetings of the Great
    Council until 1423, that is to say, for 122 years."--_Cod. Ven_.
    tom. i. p. 126. The Chronicle extends from 1253 to 1454.

  [114] "Vi era appresso la Cancellaria, e la Gheba o Gabbia, chiamata
    poi Torresella."--P. 324. A small square tower is seen above the
    Vine angle in the view of Venice dated 1500, and attributed to
    Albert Durer. It appears about 25 feet square, and is very probably
    the Torresella in question.

  [115] Vide Bettio, Lettera, p. 23.

  [116] Bettio, Lettera, p. 20. "Those who wrote without having seen
    them described them as covered with lead; and those who have seen
    them know that, between their flat timber roofs and the sloping
    leaden roof of the palace, the interval is five metres where it is
    least, and nine where it is greatest."

  [117] "Questo Dose anche fese far la porta granda che se al intrar
    del Pallazzo, in su la qual vi e la sua statua che sta in
    zenocchioni con lo confalon in man, davanti li pie de lo Lion S.
    Marco,"--_Savin Chronicle_, Cod. Ven. p. 120.

  [118] These documents I have not examined myself, being satisfied of
    the accuracy of Cadorin, from whom I take the passages quoted.

  [119] "Libras tres, soldos 15 grossorum."--_Cadorin_, 189, 1.

  [120] Cod. Ven., No. CXLI. p. 365.

  [121] Sansovino is more explicit than usual in his reference to this
    decree: "For it having appeared that the place (the first Council
    Chamber) was not capacious enough, the saloon on the Grand Canal was
    ordered." "Per cio parendo che il luogo non fosse capace, fu
    ordinata la Sala sul Canal Grande."--P. 324.

  [122] Cadorin, 185, 2. The decree of 1342 is falsely given as of 1345
    by the Sivos Chronicle, and by Magno; while Sanuto gives the decree
    to its right year, 1342, but speaks of the Council Chamber as only
    begun in 1345.

  [123] Calendario. See Appendix 1, Vol. III.

  [124] "Il primo che vi colorisse fu Guariento, il quale l' anno 1365
    vi fece il Paradiso in testa della sala."--_Sansovino._

  [125] "L' an poi 1400 vi fece il cielo compartita a quadretti d'oro,
    ripieni di stelle, ch' era la insegna del Doge Steno."--_Sansovino_,
    lib. VIII.

  [126] "In questi tempi si messe in oro il cielo della sala del Gran
    Consiglio et si fece il pergolo del finestra grande chi guarda sul
    canale, adornato l'uno e l'altro di stelle, ch' erano l'insegne del
    Doge."--_Sansovino_, lib. XIII. Compare also Pareri, p. 129.

  [127] Baseggio (Pareri, p. 127) is called the Proto of the _New_
    Palace. Farther notes will be found in Appendix 1, Vol. III.

  [128] Cronaca Sanudo, No. CXXV. in the Marcian Library, p. 568.

  [129] Tomaso Mocenigo.

    [130] Vide notes in Appendix.

  [131] On the 4th of April, 1423, according to the copy of the
    Zancarol Chronicle in the Marcian Library, but previously, according
    to the Caroldo Chronicle, which makes Foscari enter the Senate as
    Doge on the 3rd of April.

  [132] "Nella quale (the Sala del Gran Consiglio) non si fece Gran
    Consiglio salvo nell' anno 1423, alli 3 April, et fu il primo giorno
    che il Duce Foscari venisse in Gran Consiglio dopo la sua
    creatione."--Copy in Marcian Library, p. 365.

  [133] "E a di 23 April (1423, by the context) sequente fo fatto Gran
    Conseio in la salla nuovo dovi avanti non esta più fatto Gran
    Conseio si che el primo Gran Conseio dopo la sua (Foscari's)
    creation, fo fatto in la salla nuova, nel qual conseio fu el
    Marchese di Mantoa," &c., p. 426.

  [134] Compare Appendix 1, Vol. III.

  [135] "Tutte queste fatture si compirono sotto il dogado del
    Foscari, nel 1441."--_Pareri_, p. 131.

  [136] This identification has been accomplished, and I think
    conclusively, by my friend Mr. Rawdon Brown, who has devoted all the
    leisure which, during the last twenty years, his manifold offices of
    kindness to almost every English visitant of Venice have left him,
    in discovering and translating the passages of the Venetian records
    which bear upon English history and literature. I shall have
    occasion to take advantage hereafter of a portion of his labors,
    which I trust will shortly be made public.

  [137] See the last chapter of the third volume.

    name of Christ, Amen, in the year of the incarnation, 1317, in the
    month of September," &c.

  [139] "Oh, venerable Raphael, make thou the gulf calm, we beseech
    thee." The peculiar office of the angel Raphael is, in general,
    according to tradition, the restraining the harmful influences of
    evil spirits. Sir Charles Eastlake told me, that sometimes in this
    office he is represented bearing the gall of the fish caught by
    Tobit; and reminded me of the peculiar superstitions of the
    Venetians respecting the raising of storms by fiends, as embodied in
    the well-known tale of the Fisherman and St. Mark's ring.

  [140] In the original, the succession of words is evidently suggested
    partly by similarity of sound; and the sentence is made weighty by
    an alliteration which is quite lost in our translation; but the very
    allowance of influence to these minor considerations is a proof how
    little any metaphysical order or system was considered necessary in
    the statement.

  [141] It occurs in a prayer for the influence of the Holy Spirit,
    "That He may keep my soul, and direct my way; compose my bearing,
    and form my thoughts in holiness; may He govern my body, and protect
    my mind; strengthen me in action, approve my vows, and accomplish my
    desires; cause me to lead an honest and honorable life, and give me
    good hope, charity and chastity, humility and patience: may He
    govern the Five Senses of my body," &c. The following prayer is also
    very characteristic of this period. It opens with a beautiful
    address to Christ upon the cross; then proceeds thus: "Grant to us,
    O Lord, we beseech thee, this day and ever, the use of penitence, of
    abstinence, of humility, and chastity; and grant to us light,
    judgment, understanding, and true knowledge, even to the end." One
    thing I note in comparing old prayers with modern ones, that however
    quaint, or however erring, they are always tenfold more condensed,
    comprehensive, and to their purpose, whatever that may be. There is
    no dilution in them, no vain or monotonous phraseology. They ask for
    what is desired plainly and earnestly, and never could be shortened
    by a syllable. The following series of ejaculations are deep in
    spirituality, and curiously to our present purpose in the
    philological quaintness of being built upon prepositions:--

     "Domine Jesu Christe, sancta cruce tua apud me sis, ut me defendas.
      Domine Jesu Christe, pro veneranda cruce tua post me sis, ut me
      Domine Jesu Christe, pro benedicta cruce tua intra me sis, ut me
      Domine Jesu Christe, pro benedicta cruce tua circa me sis, ut me
      Domine Jesu Christe, pro gloriosa cruce tua ante me sis, ut me
      Domine Jesu Christe, pro laudanda cruce tua super me sis, ut
      Domine Jesu Christe, pro magnifica cruce tua in me sis, ut me ad
    regnum tuum perducas, per D. N. J. C. Amen."

  [142] This arrangement of the cardinal virtues is said to have been
    first made by Archytas. See D'Ancarville's illustration of the three
    figures of Prudence, Fortitude, and Charity, in Selvatico's
    "Cappellina degli Scrovegni," Padua, 1836.

  [143] Or Penitence: but I rather think this is understood only in
    Compunctio cordis.

  [144] The transformation of a symbol into a reality, observe, as in
    transubstantiation, is as much an abandonment of symbolism as the
    forgetfulness of symbolic meaning altogether.

  [145] On the window of New College, Oxford.

  [146] Uniting the three ideas expressed by the Greek philosophers
    under the terms [Greek: phronêei], [Greek: sophia], and [Greek:
    epistêmê]; and part of the idea of [Greek: sôphrosonê].

  [147] Isa. lxiv. 5.

  [148] I can hardly think it necessary to point out to the reader the
    association between sacred cheerfulness and solemn thought, or to
    explain any appearance of contradiction between passages in which
    (as above in Chap. V.) I have had to oppose sacred pensiveness to
    unholy mirth, and those in which I have to oppose sacred
    cheerfulness to unholy sorrow.

  [149] "Desse," seat

  [150] Usually called Charity: but this virtue in its full sense is
    one of the attendant spirits by the Throne; the Kindness here meant
    is Charity with a special object; or Friendship and Kindness, as
    opposed to Envy, which has always, in like manner, a special object.
    Hence the love of Orestes and Pylades is given as an instance of the
    virtue of Friendship; and the Virgin's, "They have no wine," at
    Cana, of general kindness and sympathy with others' pleasure.

  [151] The "Faerie Queen," like Dante's "Paradise," is only half
    estimated, because few persons take the pains to think out its
    meaning. I have put a brief analysis of the first book in Appendix
    2, Vol. III.; which may perhaps induce the reader to follow out the
    subject for himself. No time devoted to profane literature will be
    better rewarded than that spent _earnestly_ on Spenser.

  [152] Inscribed, I believe, Pietas, meaning general reverence and
    godly fear.

  [153] I have given one of these capitals carefully already in my folio
    work, and hope to give most of the others in due time. It was of no
    use to draw them here, as the scale would have been too small to
    allow me to show the expression of the figures.

  [154] Lord Lindsay, vol. ii. p. 226.

  [155] Lord Lindsay, vol. ii. letter IV.

  [156] Selvatico states that these are intended to be representative
    of eight nations, Latins, Tartars, Turks, Hungarians, Greeks, Goths,
    Egyptians, and Persians. Either the inscriptions are now defaced or
    I have carelessly omitted to note them.

  [157] The comma in these inscriptions stands for a small cuneiform
    mark, I believe of contraction, and the small ^s for a zigzag mark
    of the same kind. The dots or periods are similarly marked, on the

  [158] Can they have mistaken the ISIPIONE of the fifth side for the
    word Isidore?

  [159] Compare the speech of the Doge Mocenigo, above,--"first justice,
    and _then_ the interests of the state:" and see Vol. III. Chap. II.
    § LIX.

  [160] Some further details respecting these portions, as well as
    some necessary confirmations of my statements of dates, are,
    however, given in Appendix 1, Vol. III. I feared wearying the
    general reader by introducing them into the text.

  [161] Many persons, capable of quickly sympathizing with any
    excellence, when once pointed out to them, easily deceive themselves
    into the supposition that they are judges of art. There is only one
    real test of such power of judgment. Can they, at a glance, discover
    a good picture obscured by the filth, and confused among the
    rubbish, of the pawnbroker's or dealer's garret?

  [162] This is easily explained. There are, of course, in every place
    and at all periods, bad painters who conscientiously believe that
    they can improve every picture they touch; and these men are
    generally, in their presumption, the most influential over the
    innocence, whether of monarchs or municipalities. The carpenter and
    slater have little influence in recommending the repairs of the
    roof; but the bad painter has great influence, as well as interest,
    in recommending those of the picture.



Most persons are now well acquainted with the general aspect of the
Venetian gondola, but few have taken the pains to understand the cries
of warning uttered by its boatmen, although those cries are peculiarly
characteristic, and very impressive to a stranger, and have been even
very sweetly introduced in poetry by Mr. Monckton Milnes. It may perhaps
be interesting to the traveller in Venice to know the general method of
management of the boat to which he owes so many happy hours.

A gondola is in general rowed only by one man, _standing_ at the stern;
those of the upper classes having two or more boatmen, for greater speed
and magnificence. In order to raise the oar sufficiently, it rests, not
on the side of the boat, but on a piece of crooked timber like the
branch of a tree, rising about a foot from the boat's side, and called a
"fórcola." The fórcola is of different forms, according to the size and
uses of the boat, and it is always somewhat complicated in its parts and
curvature, allowing the oar various kinds of rests and catches on both
its sides, but perfectly free play in all cases; as the management of
the boat depends on the gondolier's being able in an instant to place
his oar in any position. The fórcola is set on the right-hand side of
the boat, some six feet from the stern: the gondolier stands on a little
flat platform or deck behind it, and throws nearly the entire weight of
his body upon the forward stroke. The effect of this stroke would be
naturally to turn the boat's head round to the left, as well as to send
it forward; but this tendency is corrected by keeping the blade of the
oar under the water on the return stroke, and raising it gradually, as
a full spoon is raised out of any liquid, so that the blade emerges from
the water only an instant before it again plunges. A _downward_ and
lateral pressure upon the fórcola is thus obtained, which entirely
counteracts the tendency given by the forward stroke; and the effort,
after a little practice, becomes hardly conscious, though, as it adds
some labor to the back stroke, rowing a gondola at speed is hard and
breathless work, though it appears easy and graceful to the looker-on.

If then the gondola is to be turned to the left, the forward impulse is
given without the return stroke; if it is to be turned to the right, the
plunged oar is brought forcibly up to the surface; in either case a
single strong stroke being enough to turn the light and flat-bottomed
boat. But as it has no keel, when the turn is made sharply, as out of
one canal into another very narrow one, the impetus of the boat in its
former direction gives it an enormous lee-way, and it drifts laterally
up against the wall of the canal, and that so forcibly, that if it has
turned at speed, no gondolier can arrest the motion merely by strength
or rapidity of stroke of oar; but it is checked by a strong thrust of
the foot against the wall itself, the head of the boat being of course
turned for the moment almost completely round to the opposite wall, and
greater exertion made to give it, as quickly as possible, impulse in the
new direction.

The boat being thus guided, the cry "Premi" is the order from one
gondolier to another that he should "press" or thrust forward his oar,
without the back stroke, so as to send the boat's head round _to the
left_; and the cry "Stali" is the order that he should give the return
or upward stroke which sends the boat's head round to the _right_.
Hence, if two gondoliers meet under any circumstances which render it a
matter of question on which side they should pass each other, the
gondolier who has at the moment the least power over his boat, cries to
the other, "Premi," if he wishes the boats to pass with their right-hand
sides to each other, and "Stali," if with their left. Now, in turning a
corner, there is of course risk of collision between boats coming from
opposite sides, and warning is always clearly and loudly given on
approaching an angle of the canals. It is of course presumed that the
boat which gives the warning will be nearer the turn than the one which
receives and answers it; and therefore will not have so much time to
check itself or alter its course. Hence the advantage of the turn, that
is, the outside, which allows the fullest swing and greatest room for
lee-way, is always yielded to the boat which gives warning. Therefore,
if the warning boat is going to turn to the right, as it is to have the
outside position, it will keep its own right-hand side to the boat which
it meets, and the cry of warning is therefore "Premi," twice given;
first as soon as it can be heard round the angle, prolonged and loud,
with the accent on the e, and another strongly accented e added, a kind
of question, "Prémi-é," followed at the instant of turning, with "Ah
Premí," with the accent sharp on the final i. If, on the other hand, the
warning boat is going to turn to the left, it will pass with its
left-hand side to the one it meets; and the warning cry is, "Stáli-é, Ah
Stalí." Hence the confused idea in the mind of the traveller that Stali
means "to the left," and "Premi" to the right; while they mean, in
reality, the direct reverse; the Stali, for instance, being the order to
the unseen gondolier who may be behind the corner, coming from the
left-hand side, that he should hold as much as possible _to his own
right_; this being the only safe order for him, whether he is going to
turn the corner himself, or to go straight on; for as the warning
gondola will always swing right across the canal in turning, a collision
with it is only to be avoided by keeping well within it, and close up to
the corner which it turns.

There are several other cries necessary in the management of the
gondola, but less frequently, so that the reader will hardly care for
their interpretation; except only the "sciar," which is the order to the
opposite gondolier to stop the boat as suddenly as possible by slipping
his oar in front of the fórcola. The _cry_ is never heard except when
the boatmen have got into some unexpected position, involving a risk of
collision; but the action is seen constantly, when the gondola is rowed
by two or more men (for if performed by the single gondolier it only
swings the boat's head sharp round to the right), in bringing up at a
landing-place, especially when there is any intent of display, the boat
being first urged to its full speed and then stopped with as much foam
about the oar-blades as possible, the effect being much like that of
stopping a horse at speed by pulling him on his haunches.


"Santa Maria della Salute," Our Lady of Health, or of Safety, would be a
more literal translation, yet not perhaps fully expressing the force of
the Italian word in this case. The church was built between 1630 and
1680, in acknowledgment of the cessation of the plague;--of course to
the Virgin, to whom the modern Italian has recourse in all his principal
distresses, and who receives his gratitude for all principal

The hasty traveller is usually enthusiastic in his admiration of this
building; but there is a notable lesson to be derived from it, which is
not often read. On the opposite side of the broad canal of the Giudecca
is a small church, celebrated among Renaissance architects as of
Palladian design, but which would hardly attract the notice of the
general observer, unless on account of the pictures by John Bellini
which it contains, in order to see which the traveller may perhaps
remember having been taken across the Giudecca to the Church of the
"Redentore." But he ought carefully to compare these two buildings with
each other, the one built "to the Virgin," the other "to the Redeemer"
(also a votive offering after the cessation of the plague of 1576); the
one, the most conspicuous church in Venice, its dome, the principal one
by which she is first discerned, rising out of the distant sea: the
other, small and contemptible, on a suburban island, and only becoming
an object of interest because it contains three small pictures! For in
the relative magnitude and conspicuousness of these two buildings, we
have an accurate index of the relative importance of the ideas of the
Madonna and of Christ, in the modern Italian mind.

Some further account of this church is given in the final Index to the
Venetian buildings at the close of the third Volume.


The lowest and highest tides take place in Venice at different periods,
the lowest during the winter, the highest in the summer and autumn.
During the period of the highest tides, the city is exceedingly
beautiful, especially if, as is not unfrequently the case, the water
rises high enough partially to flood St. Mark's Place. Nothing can be
more lovely or fantastic than the scene, when the Campanile and the
Golden Church are reflected in the calm water, and the lighter gondolas
floating under the very porches of the façade. On the other hand, a
winter residence in Venice is rendered peculiarly disagreeable by the
low tides, which sometimes leave the smaller canals entirely dry, and
large banks of mud beneath the houses, along the borders of even the
Grand Canal. The difference between the levels of the highest and lowest
tides I saw in Venice was 6 ft. 3 in. The average fall rise is from two
to three feet.

       *       *       *       *       *

The measures of Torcello were intended for Appendix 4; but having by a
misprint referred the reader to Appendix 3, I give them here. The entire
breadth of the church within the walls is 70 feet; of which the square
bases of the pillars, 3 feet on each side, occupy 6 feet; and the nave,
from base to base, measures 31 ft. 1 in.; the aisles from base to wall,
16 feet odd inches, not accurately ascertainable on account of the
modern wainscot fittings. The intervals between the bases of the pillars
are 8 feet each, increasing towards the altar to 8 ft. 3 in., in order
to allow for a corresponding diminution in the diameter of the bases
from 3 ft. to 2 ft. 11 in. or 2 ft. 10. in. This subtle diminution of
the bases is in order to prevent the eye from feeling the greater
narrowness of the shafts in that part of the nave, their average
circumference being 6 ft. 10 in.; and one, the second on the north side,
reaching 7 feet, while those at the upper end of the nave vary from 6
ft. 8 in. to 6 ft. 4 in. It is probable that this diminution in the more
distant pillars adds slightly to the perspective effect of length in the
body of the church, as it is seen from the great entrance: but whether
this was the intention or not, the delicate adaptation of this
diminished base to the diminished shaft is a piece of fastidiousness in
proportion which I rejoice in having detected; and this the more,
because the rude contours of the bases themselves would little induce
the spectator to anticipate any such refinement.


The first flight to the lagoons for shelter was caused by the invasion
of Attila in the fifth century, so that in endeavoring to throw back the
thought of the reader to the former solitude of the islands, I spoke of
them as they must have appeared "1300 years ago." Altinum, however, was
not finally destroyed till the Lombard invasion in 641, when the
episcopal seat was removed to Torcello, and the inhabitants of the
mainland city, giving up all hope of returning to their former homes,
built their Duomo there. It is a disputed point among Venetian
antiquarians, whether the present church be that which was built in the
seventh century, partially restored in 1008, or whether the words of
Sagornino, "ecclesiam jam vetustate consumptam recreare," justify them
in assuming an entire rebuilding of the fabric. I quite agree with the
Marchese Selvatico, in believing the present church to be the earlier
building, variously strengthened, refitted, and modified by subsequent
care; but, in all its main features, preserving its original aspect,
except, perhaps, in the case of the pulpit and chancel screen, which, if
the Chevalier Bunsen's conclusions respecting early pulpits in the Roman
basilicas be correct (see the next article of this Appendix), may
possibly have been placed in their present position in the tenth
century, and the fragmentary character of the workmanship of the latter,
noticed in §§ X. and XI., would in that case have been the result of
innovation, rather than of haste. The question, however, whether they
are of the seventh or eleventh century, does not in the least affect our
conclusions, drawn from the design of these portions of the church,
respecting pulpits in general.


There is no character of an ordinary modern English church which appears
to me more to be regretted than the peculiar pompousness of the
furniture of the pulpits, contrasted, as it generally is, with great
meagreness and absence of color in the other portions of the church; a
pompousness, besides, altogether without grace or meaning, and dependent
merely on certain applications of upholstery; which, curiously enough,
are always in worse taste than even those of our drawing-rooms. Nor do
I understand how our congregations can endure the aspect of the wooden
sounding-board attached only by one point of its circumference to an
upright pillar behind the preacher; and looking as if the weight of its
enormous leverage must infallibly, before the sermon is concluded, tear
it from its support, and bring it down upon the preacher's head. These
errors in taste and feeling will however, I believe, be gradually
amended as more Gothic churches are built; but the question of the
position of the pulpit presents a more disputable ground of discussion.
I can perfectly sympathise with the feeling of those who wish the
eastern extremity of the church to form a kind of holy place for the
communion table; nor have I often received a more painful impression
than on seeing the preacher at the Scotch church in George Street,
Portman Square, taking possession of a perfect apse; and occupying
therein, during the course of the service, very nearly the same position
which the figure of Christ does in that of the Cathedral of Pisa. But I
nevertheless believe that the Scotch congregation are perfectly right,
and have restored the real arrangement of the primitive churches. The
Chevalier Bunsen informed me very lately, that, in all the early
basilicas he has examined, the lateral pulpits are of more recent date
than the rest of the building; that he knows of none placed in the
position which they now occupy, both in the basilicas and Gothic
cathedrals, before the ninth century; and that there can be no doubt
that the bishop always preached or exhorted, in the primitive times,
from his throne in the centre of the apse, the altar being always set at
the centre of the church, in the crossing of the transepts. His
Excellency found by experiment in Santa Maria Maggiore, the largest of
the Roman basilicas, that the voice could be heard more plainly from the
centre of the apse than from any other spot in the whole church; and, if
this be so, it will be another very important reason for the adoption of
the Romanesque (or Norman) architecture in our churches, rather than of
the Gothic. The reader will find some farther notice of this question in
the concluding chapter of the third volume.

Before leaving this subject, however, I must be permitted to say one
word to those members of the Scotch Church who are severe in their
requirement of the nominal or apparent extemporization of all addresses
delivered from the pulpit. Whether they do right in giving those among
their ministers who _cannot_ preach extempore, the additional and
useless labor of committing their sermons to memory, may be a disputed
question; but it can hardly be so, that the now not unfrequent habit of
making a desk of the Bible, and reading the sermon stealthily, by
slipping the sheets of it between the sacred leaves, so that the
preacher consults his own notes _on pretence_ of consulting the
Scriptures, is a very unseemly consequence of their over-strictness.


The following passage succeeded in the original text to § XV. of Chap.
III. Finding it not likely to interest the general reader, I have placed
it here, as it contains matter of some interest to architects.

   "On this plinth, thus carefully studied in relations of magnitude,
   the shafts are set at the angles, as close to each other as possible,
   as seen in the ground-plan. These shafts are founded on pure Roman
   tradition; their bases have no spurs, and the shaft itself is tapered
   in a bold curve, according to the classical model. But, in the
   adjustment of the bases to each other, we have a most curious
   instance of the first beginning of the Gothic principle of
   aggregation of shafts. They have a singularly archaic and simple
   profile, composed of a single cavetto and roll, which are circular,
   on a square plinth. Now when these bases are brought close to each
   other at the angles of the apse, their natural position would be as
   in fig. 3, Plate I., leaving an awkward fissure between the two
   square plinths. This offended the architect's eye; so he cut part of
   each of the bases away, and fitted them close to each other, as in
   fig. 5, Plate I., which is their actual position. As before this
   piece of rough harmonization the circular mouldings reached the sides
   of the squares, they were necessarily cut partly away in the course
   of the adjustment, and run into each other as in the figure, so as to
   give us one of the first Venetian instances of the continuous Gothic

   "The shafts measure on the average 2 ft. 8½ in. in circumference,
   at the base, tapering so much that under the lowest fillet of their
   necks they measure only 2 feet round, though their height is only 5
   ft. 6 in., losing thus eight inches of girth in five feet and a half
   of height. They are delicately curved all the way up; and are 2½
   in. apart from each other where they are nearest, and about 5 in. at
   the necks of their capitals."


Sansovino's account of the changes in the dress of the Venetians is
brief, masterly, and full of interest; one or two passages are deserving
of careful notice, especially the introductory sentence. "For the
Venetians from their first origin, having made it their aim to be
peaceful and religious, and to keep on an equality with one another,
that equality might induce stability and concord (as disparity produces
confusion and ruin), made their dress a matter of conscience, ...; and
our ancestors, observant lovers of religion, upon which all their acts
were founded, and desiring that their young men should direct themselves
to virtue, the true soul of all human action, _and above all to peace_,
invented a dress conformable to their gravity, such, that in clothing
themselves with it, they might clothe themselves also with modesty and
honor. And because their mind was bent upon giving no offence to any
one, and living quietly as far as might be permitted them, it seemed
good to them to show to every one, even by external signs, this their
endeavor, by wearing a long dress, which was in no wise convenient for
persons of a quick temperament, or of eager and fierce spirits."

Respecting the color of the women's dress, it is noticeable that blue is
called "Venetian color" by Cassiodorus, translated "turchino" by
Filiasi, vol. v. chap. iv. It was a very pale blue, as the place in
which the word occurs is the description by Cassiodorus of the darkness
which came over the sun's disk at the time of the Belisarian wars and
desolation of the Gothic kingdom.


There are two other inscriptions on the border of the concha; but these,
being written on the soffit of the face arch, which, as before noticed,
is supported by the last two shafts of the chancel, could not be read by
the congregation, and only with difficulty by those immediately
underneath them. One of them is in black, the other in red letters. The

  "Mutat quod sumsit, quod sollat crimina tandit
   Et quod sumpsit, vultus vestisq. refulsit."

The second:

  "Discipuli testes, prophete certa videntes
   Et cernunt purum, sibi credunt ese futurum."

I have found no notice of any of these inscriptions in any Italian
account of the church of Murano, and have seldom seen even Monkish Latin
less intelligible. There is no mistake in the letters, which are all
large and clear; but wrong letters may have been introduced by ignorant
restorers, as has often happened in St. Mark's.


The principal pillars which carry the nave and transepts, fourteen in
number, are of white alabaster veined with grey and amber; each of a
single block, 15 ft. high, and 6 ft. 2 in. round at the base. I in vain
endeavored to ascertain their probable value. Every sculptor whom I
questioned on this subject told me there were no such pieces of
alabaster in the market, and that they were to be considered as without

On the façade of the church alone are two great ranges of shafts,
seventy-two in the lower range, and seventy-nine in the upper; all of
porphyry, alabaster, and verd-antique or fine marble; the lower about 9
ft., the upper about 7 ft. high, and of various circumferences, from 4
ft. 6 in. to 2 ft. round.

There are now so many published engravings, and, far better than
engravings, calotypes, of this façade, that I may point out one or two
circumstances for the reader's consideration without giving any plate of
it here. And first, we ought to note the relations of the shafts and
wall, the latter being first sheeted with alabaster, and then the
pillars set within two or three inches of it, forming such a grove of
golden marble that the porches open before us as we enter the church
like glades in a deep forest. The reader may perhaps at first question
the propriety of placing the wall so close behind the shafts that the
latter have nearly as little work to do as the statues in a Gothic
porch; but the philosophy of this arrangement is briefly deducible from
the principles stated in the text. The builder had at his disposal
shafts of a certain size only, not fit to sustain the whole weight of
the fabric above. He therefore turns just as much of the wall veil into
shaft as he has strength of marble at his disposal, and leaves the rest
in its massive form. And that there may be no dishonesty in this, nor
any appearance in the shafts of doing more work than is really allotted
to them, many are left visibly with half their capitals projecting
beyond the archivolts they sustain, showing that the wall is very
slightly dependent on their co-operation, and that many of them are
little more than mere bonds or connecting rods between the foundation
and cornices. If any architect ventures to blame such an arrangement,
let him look at our much vaunted early English piers in Salisbury
Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, where the small satellitic shafts are
introduced in the same gratuitous manner, but with far less excuse or
reason: for those small shafts have nothing but their delicacy and
purely theoretical connection with the archivolt mouldings to recommend
them; but the St. Mark's shafts have an intrinsic beauty and value of
the highest order, and the object of the whole system of architecture,
as above stated, is in great part to set forth the beauty and value of
the shaft itself. Now, not only is this accomplished by withdrawing it
occasionally from servile work, but the position here given to it,
within three or four inches of a wall from which it nevertheless stands
perfectly clear all the way up, is exactly that which must best display
its color and quality. When there is much vacant space left behind a
pillar, the shade against which it is relieved is comparatively
indefinite, the eye passes by the shaft, and penetrates into the
vacancy. But when a broad surface of wall is brought near the shaft, its
own shadow is, in almost every effect of sunshine, so sharp and dark as
to throw out its colors with the highest possible brilliancy; if there
be no sunshine, the wall veil is subdued and varied by the most subtle
gradations of delicate half shadow, hardly less advantageous to the
shaft which it relieves. And, as far as regards pure effect in open air
(all artifice of excessive darkness or mystery being excluded), I do not
know anything whatsoever in the whole compass of the European
architecture I have seen, which can for a moment be compared with the
quaint shade and delicate color, like that of Rembrandt and Paul
Veronese united, which the sun brings out, as his rays move from porch
to porch along the St. Mark's façade.

And, as if to prove that this was indeed the builder's intention, and
that he did not leave his shafts idle merely because he did not know how
to set them to work safely, there are two pieces of masonry at the
extremities of the façade, which are just as remarkable for their frank
trust in the bearing power of the shafts as the rest are for their want
of confidence in them. But, before we come to these, we must say a word
or two respecting the second point named above, the superior position of
the shafts.

It was assuredly not in the builder's power, even had he been so
inclined, to obtain shafts high enough to sustain the whole external
gallery, as it is sustained in the nave, on one arcade. He had, as above
noticed, a supply of shafts of every sort and size, from which he chose
the largest for his nave shafts; the smallest were set aside for
windows, jambs, balustrades, supports of pulpits, niches, and such other
services, every conceivable size occurring in different portions of the
building; and the middle-sized shafts were sorted into two classes, of
which on the average one was about two-thirds the length of the other,
and out of these the two stories of the façade and sides of the church
are composed, the smaller shafts of course uppermost, and more numerous
than the lower, according to the ordinary laws of superimposition
adopted by all the Romanesque builders, and observed also in a kind of
architecture quite as beautiful as any we are likely to invent, that of
forest trees.

Nothing is more singular than the way in which this kind of
superimposition (the only right one in the case of shafts) will shock a
professed architect. He has been accustomed to see, in the Renaissance
designs, shaft put on the top of shaft, three or four times over, and he
thinks this quite right; but the moment he is shown a properly
subdivided superimposition, in which the upper shafts diminish in size
and multiply in number, so that the lower pillars would balance them
safely even without cement, he exclaims that it is "against law," as if
he had never seen a tree in his life.

Not that the idea of the Byzantine superimposition was taken from trees,
any more than that of Gothic arches. Both are simple compliances with
laws of nature, and, therefore, approximations to the forms of nature.

There is, however, one very essential difference between tree structure
and the shaft structure in question; namely, that the marble branches,
having no vital connexion with the stem, must be provided with a firm
tablet or second foundation whereon to stand. This intermediate plinth
or tablet runs along the whole façade at one level, is about eighteen
inches thick, and left with little decoration as being meant for hard
service. The small porticos, already spoken of as the most graceful
pieces of composition with which I am acquainted, are sustained on
detached clusters of four or five columns, forming the continuation of
those of the upper series, and each of these clusters is balanced on one
grand detached shaft; as much trust being thus placed in the pillars
here, as is withdrawn from them elsewhere. The northern portico has only
one detached pillar at its outer angle, which sustains three shafts and
a square pilaster; of these shafts the one at the outer angle of the
group is the thickest (so as to balance the pilaster on the inner
angle), measuring 3 ft. 2 in. round, while the others measure only 2 ft.
10 in. and 2 ft. 11 in.; and in order to make this increase of diameter,
and the importance of the shaft, more manifest to the eye, the old
builders made the shaft _shorter_ as well as thicker, increasing the
depth both of its capital and the base, with what is to the thoughtless
spectator ridiculous incongruity, and to the observant one a most
beautiful expression of constructive genius. Nor is this all. Observe:
the whole strength of this angle depends on accuracy of _poise_, not on
breadth or strength of foundation. It is a _balanced_, not a propped
structure: if the balance fails, it must fall instantly; if the balance
is maintained, no matter how the lower shaft is fastened into the
ground, all will be safe. And to mark this more definitely, the great
lower shaft _has a different base from all the others of the façade_,
remarkably high in proportion to the shaft, on a circular instead of a
square plinth, and _without spurs_, while all the other bases have spurs
without exception. Glance back at what is said of the spurs at p. 79 of
the first volume, and reflect that all expression of _grasp_ in the foot
of the pillar is here useless, and to be replaced by one of balance
merely, and you will feel what the old builder wanted to say to us, and
how much he desired us to follow him with our understanding as he laid
stone above stone.

And this purpose of his is hinted to us once more, even by the position
of this base in the ground plan of the foundation of the portico; for,
though itself circular, it sustains a hexagonal plinth _set obliquely to
the walls of the church_, as if expressly to mark to us that it did not
matter how the base was set, so only that the weights were justly
disposed above it.


I do not intend, in thus applying the word "Idolatry" to certain
ceremonies of Romanist worship, to admit the propriety of the ordinary
Protestant manner of regarding those ceremonies as distinctively
idolatrous, and as separating the Romanist from the Protestant Church by
a gulf across which we must not look to our fellow-Christians but with
utter reprobation and disdain. The Church of Rome does indeed
distinctively violate the _second_ commandment; but the true force and
weight of the sin of idolatry are in the violation of the first, of
which we are all of us guilty, in probably a very equal degree,
considered only as members of this or that communion, and not as
Christians or unbelievers. Idolatry is, both literally and verily, not
the mere bowing down before sculptures, but the serving or becoming the
slave of any images or imaginations which stand between us and God, and
it is otherwise expressed in Scripture as "walking after the
_Imagination_" of our own hearts. And observe also that while, at least
on one occasion, we find in the Bible an indulgence granted to the mere
external and literal violation of the second commandment, "When I bow
myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this
thing," we find no indulgence in any instance, or in the slightest
degree, granted to "covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col. iii. 5; no
casual association of terms, observe, but again energetically repeated
in Ephesians, v. 5, "No covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any
inheritance in the kingdom of Christ"); nor any to that denial of God,
idolatry in one of its most subtle forms, following so often on the
possession of that wealth against which Agur prayed so earnestly, "Give
me neither poverty nor riches, lest I be full and deny thee, and say,
'Who is the Lord?'"

And in this sense, which of us is not an idolater? Which of us has the
right, in the fulness of that better knowledge, in spite of which he
nevertheless is not yet separated from the service of this world, to
speak scornfully of any of his brethren, because, in a guiltless
ignorance, they have been accustomed to bow their knees before a statue?
Which of us shall say that there may not be a spiritual worship in their
apparent idolatry, or that there is not a spiritual idolatry in our own
apparent worship?

For indeed it is utterly impossible for one man to judge of the feeling
with which another bows down before an image. From that pure reverence
in which Sir Thomas Brown wrote, "I can dispense with my hat at the
sight of a cross, but not with a thought of my Redeemer," to the worst
superstition of the most ignorant Romanist, there is an infinite series
of subtle transitions; and the point where simple reverence and the use
of the image merely to render conception more vivid, and feeling more
intense, change into definite idolatry by the attribution of Power to
the image itself, is so difficultly determinable that we cannot be too
cautions in asserting that such a change has actually taken place in the
case of any individual. Even when it is definite and certain, we shall
oftener find it the consequence of dulness of intellect than of real
alienation of heart from God; and I have no manner of doubt that half of
the poor and untaught Christians who are this day lying prostrate before
crucifixes, Bambinos, and Volto Santos, are finding more acceptance with
God, than many Protestants who idolize nothing but their own opinions or
their own interests. I believe that those who have worshipped the thorns
of Christ's crown will be found at last to have been holier and wiser
than those who worship the thorns of the world's service, and that to
adore the nails of the cross is a less sin than to adore the hammer of
the workman.

But, on the other hand, though the idolatry of the lower orders in the
Romish Church may thus be frequently excusable, the ordinary subterfuges
by which it is defended are not so. It may be extenuated, but cannot be
denied; and the attribution of power to the image,[163] in which it
consists, is not merely a form of popular feeling, but a tenet of
priestly instruction, and may be proved, over and over again, from any
book of the Romish Church services. Take for instance the following
prayer, which occurs continually at the close of the service of the Holy

  "Saincte vraye Croye aourée,
   Qui du corps Dieu fu aournée
   Et de sa sueur arrousée,
   Et de son sanc enluminée,
   Par ta vertu, par ta puissance,
   Defent mon corps de meschance,
   Et montroie moy par ton playsir
   Que vray confes puisse mourir."

  "Oh holy, true, and golden Cross, which wast adorned with God's body,
    and watered with His sweat, and illuminated with His blood, by thy
    healing virtue and thy power, defend my body from mischance; and by
    thy good pleasure, let me make a good confession when I die."

There can be no possible defence imagined for the mere terms in which
this prayer and other such are couched: yet it is always to be
remembered, that in many cases they are rather poetical effusions than
serious prayers; the utterances of imaginative enthusiasm, rather than
of reasonable conviction; and as such, they are rather to be condemned
as illusory and fictitious, than as idolatrous, nor even as such,
condemned altogether, for strong love and faith are often the roots of
them and the errors of affection are better than the accuracies of
apathy. But the unhappy results, among all religious sects, of the habit
of allowing imaginative and poetical belief to take the place of
deliberate, resolute, and prosaic belief, have been fully and admirably
traced by the author of the "Natural History of Enthusiasm."


  (1.) _The Terraced House._

The most conspicuous pile in the midmost reach of the Grand Canal is the
Casa Grimani, now the Post-Office. Letting his boat lie by the steps of
this great palace, the traveller will see, on the other side of the
canal, a building with a small terrace in front of it, and a little
court with a door to the water, beside the terrace. Half of the house is
visibly modern, and there is a great seam, like the edge of a scar,
between it and the ancient remnant, in which the circular bands of the
Byzantine arches will be instantly recognized. This building not having,
as far as I know, any name except that of its present proprietor, I
shall in future distinguish it simply as the Terraced House.

  (2.) _Casa Businello._

To the left of this edifice (looking from the Post-Office) there is a
modern palace, on the other side of which the Byzantine mouldings appear
again in the first and second stories of a house lately restored. It
might be thought that the shafts and arches had been raised yesterday,
the modern walls having been deftly adjusted to them, and all appearance
of antiquity, together with the ornamentation and proportions of the
fabric, having been entirely destroyed. I cannot, however, speak with
unmixed sorrow of these changes, since, without his being implicated in
the shame of them, they fitted this palace to become the residence of
the kindest friend I had in Venice. It is generally known as the Casa

  (3.) _The Braided House._

Leaving the steps of the Casa Grimani, and turning the gondola away from
the Rialto, we will pass the Casa Businello, and the three houses which
succeed it on the right. The fourth is another restored palace, white
and conspicuous, but retaining of its ancient structure only the five
windows in its second story, and an ornamental moulding above them which
appears to be ancient, though it is inaccessible without scaffolding,
and I cannot therefore answer for it. But the five central windows are
very valuable; and as their capitals differ from most that we find
(except in St. Mark's), in their plaited or braided border and
basket-worked sides, I shall call this house, in future, the Braided

  (4.) _The Madonnetta House._

On the other side of this palace is the Traghetto called "Della
Madonnetta;" and beyond this Traghetto, still facing the Grand Canal, a
small palace, of which the front shows mere vestiges of arcades, the old
shafts only being visible, with obscure circular seams in the modern
plaster which covers the arches. The side of it is a curious
agglomeration of pointed and round windows in every possible position,
and of nearly every date from the twelfth to the eighteenth century. It
is the smallest of the buildings we have to examine, but by no means the
least interesting: I shall call it, from the name of its Traghetto, the
Madonnetta House.

  (5.) _The Rio Foscari House._

We must now descend the Grand Canal as far as the Palazzo Foscari, and
enter the narrower canal, called the Rio di Ca' Foscari, at the side of
that palace. Almost immediately after passing the great gateway of the
Foscari courtyard, we shall see on our left, in the ruinous and
time-stricken walls which totter over the water, the white curve of a
circular arch covered with sculpture, and fragments of the bases of
small pillars, entangled among festoons of the Erba della Madonna. I
have already, in the folio plates which accompanied the first volume,
partly illustrated this building. In what references I have to make to
it here, I shall speak of it as the Rio Foscari House.

  (6.) _Casa Farsetti._

We have now to reascend the Grand Canal, and approach the Rialto. As
soon as we have passed the Casa Grimani, the traveller will recognize,
on his right, two rich and extensive masses of building, which form
important objects in almost every picturesque view of the noble bridge.
Of these, the first, that farthest from the Rialto, retains great part
of its ancient materials in a dislocated form. It has been entirely
modernized in its upper stories, but the ground floor and first floor
have nearly all their original shafts and capitals, only they have been
shifted hither and thither to give room for the introduction of various
small apartments, and present, in consequence, marvellous anomalies in
proportion. This building is known in Venice as the Casa Farsetti.

  (7.) _Casa Loredan._

The one next to it, though not conspicuous, and often passed with
neglect, will, I believe, be felt at last, by all who examine it
carefully, to be the most beautiful palace in the whole extent of the
Grand Canal. It has been restored often, once in the Gothic, once in the
Renaissance times,--some writers say, even rebuilt; but, if so, rebuilt
in its old form. The Gothic additions harmonize exquisitely with its
Byzantine work, and it is easy, as we examine its lovely central arcade,
to forget the Renaissance additions which encumber it above. It is known
as the Casa Loredan.

       *       *       *       *       *

The eighth palace is the Fondaco de' Turchi, described in the text. A
ninth existed, more interesting apparently than any of these, near the
Church of San Moisè, but it was thrown down in the course of
"improvements" a few years ago. A woodcut of it is given in M. Lazari's


Of all the various principles of art which, in modern days, we have
defied or forgotten, none are more indisputable, and few of more
practical importance than this, which I shall have occasion again and
again to allege in support of many future deductions:

"All art, working with given materials, must propose to itself the
objects which, with those materials, are most perfectly attainable; and
becomes illegitimate and debased if it propose to itself any other
objects, better attainable with other materials."

Thus, great slenderness, lightness, or intricacy of structure,--as in
ramifications of trees, detached folds of drapery, or wreaths of
hair,--is easily and perfectly expressible in metal-work or in painting,
but only with great difficulty and imperfectly expressible in sculpture.
All sculpture, therefore, which professes as its chief end the
expression of such characters, is debased; and if the suggestion of them
be accidentally required of it, that suggestion is only to be given to
an extent compatible with perfect ease of execution in the given
material,--not to the utmost possible extent. For instance: some of the
most delightful drawings of our own water-color painter, Hunt, have been
of birds' nests; of which, in painting, it is perfectly possible to
represent the intricate fibrous or mossy structure; therefore, the
effort is a legitimate one, and the art is well employed. But to carve a
bird's nest out of marble would be physically impossible, and to reach
any approximate expression of its structure would require prolonged and
intolerable labor. Therefore, all sculpture which set itself to carving
birds' nests as an end, or which, if a bird's nest were required of it,
carved it to the utmost possible point of realization, would be debased.
Nothing but the general form, and as much of the fibrous structure as
could be with perfect ease represented, ought to be attempted at all.

But more than this. The workman has not done his duty, and is not
working on safe principles, unless he even so far _honors_ the materials
with which he is working as to set himself to bring out their beauty,
and to recommend and exalt, as far as lie can, their peculiar qualities.
If he is working in marble, he should insist upon and exhibit its
transparency and solidity; if in iron, its strength and tenacity; if in
gold, its ductility; and he will invariably find the material grateful,
and that his work is all the nobler for being eulogistic of the
substance of which it is made. But of all the arts, the working of glass
is that in which we ought to keep these principles most vigorously in
mind. For we owe it so much, and the possession of it is so great a
blessing, that all our work in it should be completely and forcibly
expressive of the peculiar characters which give it so vast a value.

These are two, namely, its DUCTILITY when heated, and TRANSPARENCY when
cold, both nearly perfect. In its employment for vessels, we ought
always to exhibit its ductility, and in its employment for windows, its
transparency. All work in glass is bad which does not, with loud voice,
proclaim one or other of these great qualities.

Consequently, _all cut glass_ is barbarous: for the cutting conceals its
ductility, and confuses it with crystal. Also, all very neat, finished,
and perfect form in glass is barbarous: for this fails in proclaiming
another of its great virtues; namely, the ease with which its light
substance can be moulded or blown into any form, so long as perfect
accuracy be not required. In metal, which, even when heated enough to be
thoroughly malleable, retains yet such weight and consistency as render
it susceptible of the finest handling and retention of the most delicate
form, great precision of workmanship is admissible; but in glass, which
when once softened must be blown or moulded, not hammered, and which is
liable to lose, by contraction or subsidence, the fineness of the forms
given to it, no delicate outlines are to be attempted, but only such
fantastic and fickle grace as the mind of the workman can conceive and
execute on the instant. The more wild, extravagant, and grotesque in
their gracefulness the forms are, the better. No material is so adapted
for giving full play to the imagination, but it must not be wrought with
refinement or painfulness, still less with costliness. For as in
gratitude we are to proclaim its virtues, so in all honesty we are to
confess its imperfections; and while we triumphantly set forth its
transparency, we are also frankly to admit its fragility, and therefore
not to waste much time upon it, nor put any real art into it when
intended for daily use. No workman ought ever to spend more than an hour
in the making of any glass vessel.

Next in the case of windows, the points which we have to insist upon
are, the transparency of the glass and its susceptibility of the most
brilliant colors; and therefore the attempt to turn painted windows into
pretty pictures is one of the most gross and ridiculous barbarisms of
this pre-eminently barbarous century. It originated, I suppose, with the
Germans, who seem for the present distinguished among European nations
by the loss of the sense of color; but it appears of late to have
considerable chance of establishing itself in England: and it is a
two-edged error, striking in two directions; first at the healthy
appreciation of painting, and then at the healthy appreciation of glass.
Color, ground with oil, and laid on a solid opaque ground, furnishes to
the human hand the most exquisite means of expression which the human
sight and invention can find or require. By its two opposite qualities,
each naturally and easily attainable, of transparency in shadow and
opacity in light, it complies with the conditions of nature; and by its
perfect governableness it permits the utmost possible fulness and
subtlety in the harmonies of color, as well as the utmost perfection in
the drawing. Glass, considered as a material for a picture, is exactly
as bad as oil paint is good. It sets out by reversing the conditions of
nature, by making the lights transparent and the shadows opaque; and the
ungovernableness of its color (changing in the furnace), and its
violence (being always on a high key, because produced by actual light),
render it so disadvantageous in every way, that the result of working in
it for pictorial effect would infallibly be the destruction of all the
appreciation of the noble qualities of pictorial color.

In the second place, this modern barbarism destroys the true
appreciation of the qualities of glass. It denies, and endeavors as far
as possible to conceal, the transparency, which is not only its great
virtue in a merely utilitarian point of view, but its great spiritual
character; the character by which in church architecture it becomes
most touchingly impressive, as typical of the entrances of the Holy
Spirit into the heart of man; a typical expression rendered specific and
intense by the purity and brilliancy of its sevenfold hues;[165] and
therefore in endeavoring to turn the window into a picture, we at once
lose the sanctity and power of the noble material, and employ it to an
end which is utterly impossible it should ever worthily attain. The true
perfection of a painted window is to be serene, intense, brilliant, like
flaming jewellery; full of easily legible and quaint subjects, and
exquisitely subtle, yet simple, in its harmonies. In a word, this
perfection has been consummated in the designs, never to be surpassed,
if ever again to be approached by human art, of the French windows of
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.


  [163] I do not like to hear Protestants speaking with gross and
    uncharitable contempt even of the worship of relics. Elisha once
    trusted his own staff too far; nor can I see any reasonable ground
    for the scorn, or the unkind rebuke, of those who have been taught
    from their youth upwards that to hope even in the hem of the garment
    may sometimes be better than to spend the living on physicians.

  [164] Casa Tiepolo (?) in Lazari's Guide.

  [165] I do not think that there is anything more necessary to the
    progress of European art in the present day than the complete
    understanding of this sanctity of Color. I had much pleasure in
    finding it, the other day, fully understood and thus sweetly
    expressed in a little volume of poems by a Miss Maynard:

      "For still in every land, though to Thy name
       Arose no temple,--still in every age,
       Though heedless man had quite forgot Thy praise,
       _We_ praised Thee; and at rise and set of sun
       Did we assemble duly, and intone
       A choral hymn that all the lands might hear.
       In heaven, on earth, and in the deep we praised Thee,
       Singly, or mingled in sweet sisterhood.
       But now, acknowledged ministrants, we come,
       Co-worshippers with man in this Thy house,
       We, the Seven Daughters of the Light, to praise
       Thee, Light of Light! Thee, God of very God!"

                                         _A Dream of Fair Colors._

    These poems seem to be otherwise remarkable for a very unobtrusive
    and pure religious feeling in subjects connected with art.

       *       *       *       *       *


Page 58: 'endeavoring to imagine its aspect' corrected from 'aspeet.'

Page 84: 'inadmissible altogether, or objectionable' from

Page 179: 'the surface sculpture will' corrected from 'wiil.'

Page 188: 'central class will always' originally 'aways.'

Page 191: 'with the rest of the spirit' originally 'spirt.'

Page 204: 'the heart of that languor' originally 'langour.'

Page 263: 'merely noting this one assured fact' changed from 'nothing.'

Footnote 130: Appendi corrected to Appendix.


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